The plight of Puget Sound continues its climb to national prominence a la the Everglades, Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes. Today the U.S. Environmental Protection announced it’s giving out $10 million in funding for projects to help rescue the Sound.
That $10 million isn’t huge compared to the multi-billion-dollar pricetag a full rescue of the Sound probably will cost, or even in comparison to the amounts already spent by the state of Washington and local governments.
But it represents a decent chunk of change, and appears to cement an ongoing spot in the federal budget for restoration of Washington’s beautiful but ailing inland sea. Here’s what EPA’s press release had to say about that:
Additional solicitations for Puget Sound federal funding are expected in the near future.
That’s bureaucratese for “there’s more where that came from.”
Michelle Pirzadeh, acting administrator of EPA’s Seattle-based Region 10, noted that the $10 million comes at a particularly handy time, budgetwise:
This funding will go directly to our local and tribal partners who are on the front lines of protecting and restoring Puget Sound. These dollars come at critical time when budgets are stretched thin and help is needed to recover the Sound by 2020.
The money is to be used to improve shellfish-growing areas, many of which have been polluted by stormwater runoff; clean up contaminated sand and mud in bay bottoms; stanch the flow of pollution into the Sound and its tributaries; and restore and protect saltwater marshes and other so-called “estuarine wetlands” that occur where salt and fresh waters meet.
Local governments, Indian tribes and special taxing districts set up to help the Sound — such as one envisioned for all the counties that surround the Sound — are eligible for the EPA grants. They are expected to be handed out in amounts from $300,000 to $1 million.
— Robert McClure