Sunday, February 14, 2021

Congresswoman Strickland Advocates for More Funding for Puget Sound Recovery

The Tacoma News Tribune published an editorial earlier this month about newly elected Congresswoman (and former Tacoma Mayor) Marilyn Strickland and the role she will play to help bring more funding for Puget Sound through the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus. You can read the article here: Strickland, Kilmer put on full court press for Puget Sound | Tacoma News Tribune (

Let's Make Puget Sound A National Treasure

Congresswoman Strickland wants to put Puget Sound up in the ranks with the likes of the Great Lakes, which comprise the largest surface of freshwater in the world, and the Chesapeake Bay, which is the largest estuary in North America. Similar calls were made in the 2019 State of the Sound, which described Puget Sound Partnership's #CalltoAction for Congress to, "Fund the Puget Sound Geographic Program at a level commensurate with the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay." In 2019, Congressman Heck introduced H.R. 2247, the Puget SOS Act, which would establish a Puget Sound Recovery National Program Office within the EPA, the Puget Sound Federal Leadership Task Force (replacing the existing Puget Sound Federal Task Force), and a State Advisory Committee. The bill passed on a voice vote in February 2020, but it died because it was not taken up by the Senate. More on H.R. 2247 can be read here: PUGET SOS Act (2020; 116th Congress H.R. 2247) - The bill will need to be reintroduced to move forward.

As a former resident of the Great Lakes, this would definitely be a promotion for Puget Sound on the national stage. While Puget Sound is already recognized as a significant waterbody of national importance through the National Estuary Program (of which the Chesapeake Bay is also a member), I do not believe the general public across the United States have much awareness of the Sound and its' abundance of natural and economic resources. To be fair, as a Midwesterner, I did not know much (or even anything) about the Chesapeake Bay either, but I also don't recall being taught about stormwater pollution in grade school. When I was in college, I participated in an organization that afforded me the opportunity to teach fifth graders about rain gardens, so we have come a long way.

Funding Programs to Jump-start Recovery

We have made significant progress by teaching the next generation about the importance of how stormwater impacts our natural resources and what we can do to help protect them. But the damage has already been done. So we must approach these issues from multiple avenues, which include a combination of preservation, pollution prevention, treatment, and habitat restoration. This kind of attention and funding is vital to support restoration projects that will jump-start this recovery. The Puget Sound Vital Signs tracks the health of the ecosystem using a variety of factors. One factor is the Water Quality Index (WQI) which currently shows that urban rivers, like the Snohomish River, the Snoqualmie River, and the Puyallup River, are declining in freshwater quality. You can read more about the WQI here: PS Info | Water Quality Index

Additional programs that the Puget Sound Partnership calls the State Legislature to fund include habitat protection and restoration programs such as the Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) and efforts to reduce stormwater pollution such as the Stormwater Financial Assistance Program. In September 2020, $18 million in grants was awarded by the SRFB to 91 projects across 29 counties. The news release with project descriptions available by County can be read here: State Awards $18 Million in Grants to Recover Salmon - RCO.

What Projects Are You Interested In?

If you are curious, you can view project location maps for many of these programs. They are typically hosted on their respective websites. Let me know if there is one in particular you are interested in knowing more about!

If you are an industry professional, have you applied for or received funding from these programs in the past? I'd love to hear what kind of project you worked on and how it was working with the granting and other partner organizations!

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