From Issaquah Creek to Puget Sound

June 28, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

A Puget Sound Starts Here badge on a storm drain in downtown Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

Puget Sound starts in Issaquah — among other places — and problems in local streams can impact the sound’s overall health.

Glance at any storm drain in downtown Issaquah, and the connection between runoff from city streets and Puget Sound comes into focus.

“Puget Sound Starts Here” read placards about the same size as a deck of cards.

The shortest distance between Issaquah and Puget Sound is about 15 miles, separated by open spaces set aside for conservation and acres sealed beneath concrete. The actual division between suburb and sound is shorter.

Curbside storm drains throughout Issaquah drain to Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks, and then into Lake Sammamish. The lake is connected through a broad, interconnected watershed to Puget Sound.

“It’s all of us that live in the watershed,” said Michael Grayum, director of public affairs for the Puget Sound Partnership, a state agency formed to spearhead cleanup. “The work of the Puget Sound Partnership goes from the snowcaps to the whitecaps, and everything is connected to Puget Sound in between.”

Many sources of pollutants in Puget Sound exist far from the shoreline.

The most common way toxic chemicals reach Puget Sound is through polluted surface runoff from residential, commercial and industrial lands. Untreated runoff sluices into freshwater lakes, streams and then drains into Puget Sound.

Data collected in Puget Sound and tributaries point to human activity as the major culprit for pollution in the sound and related waterways. Inland streams serve as important indicators for conditions throughout the watershed.

Scoop the poop

Puget Sound Partnership leaders need dog owners to scoop the poop.

The waste contains hazardous organisms and can cause contamination in local streams, rivers and lakes. Runoff after rain carries fecal coliform bacteria in doo-doo into storm drains, ditches and streams feeding local rivers, lakes and Puget Sound. The bacteria in waste can make water unsafe to swim in or drink.

The public awareness campaign from Puget Sound Starts Here reminds pet owners to keep yards clean of pet waste by scooping at least once a week, if possible, and carrying a plastic bag to scoop and dispose of poop. Plus, not picking up dog waste on public property is illegal.

Change starts at home

Officials estimate about 75 percent of all pollution in Puget Sound comes from storm water runoff. The runoff comes from the water passing over roads, sidewalks, driveways and yards — picking up oil, grease, metals, soaps and yard chemicals along the way.

Connect: Find tips to protect the health of Puget Sound at http://bit.ly/gpwcTc.

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