Investigators to take new look at health effects of Duwamish cleanup

A view of downtown Seattle over the Duwamish WaterwayPaul Joseph Brown/InvestigateWestBefore the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency submits its proposed cleanup plan for the Duwamish River Superfund site later this year, community health researchers are conducting a “health impact assessment” to figure out ways the cleanup could affect surrounding communities.During the upcoming spring and summer months, researchers from University of Washington, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and Just Health Action will determine how people along the river are likely to be most affected by EPA’s cleanup. An environmental cleanup of the magnitude to be conducted on the Duwamish will undoubtedly make the river cleaner and healthier for humans and wildlife, but researchers want to learn more about the potential impact on communities, both positive and negative.“We want to minimize the adverse effects and optimize the benefits for these communities,” said BJ Cummings, community health projects manager of the Cleanup Coalition.

King County unveils West Seattle rain garden plans

King County this month entered the final planning stages for its newest rain garden project, to be located in two West Seattle neighborhoods. The planners say they are being careful not to make the same mistakes as the City of Seattle did with some of its Ballard rain gardens.

State may delay cleanup of stormwater, WA’s No. 1 water pollution source

The stormwater detention pond in West Seattle, via Flickr/kuow949.With the Washington Legislature hurtling toward a scheduled adjournment on Thursday, developers and local governments are pushing to save money for cash-strapped cities by delaying court-ordered efforts to control the state’s biggest source of water pollution.The clean-water rollbacks, as they are being characterized by environmentalists, passed the Senate Monday in a piece of legislation promoted as a way to streamline several environmental-protection programs. The bill would grant a one-year reprieve on a state deadline for 81 cities and five counties in western Washington to take steps to control polluted rainwater runoff.  Eighteen eastern Washington cities and six counties would get a two-year extension of the deadline.Environmentalists are alarmed because they see the delays coming after years of earlier extensions. But they’re even more concerned because the bill (SB 6406) calls for the 2013 Legislature to review and possibly change pollution-control rules developed by the Department of Ecology over many years under orders from the state’s pollution-control court, the Pollution Control Hearings Board. The environmentalists are also mindful that Republican Rob McKenna could be in the governor’s mansion by next spring, and that the composition of the Legislature will change, too.The Senate legislation “represents a big step backward for clean water in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and other waters of Washington state,” said Bruce Wishart, lobbyist for the environmental group People for Puget Sound. “It’s a very specific invitation to the Legislature to monkey with this.”