EVERETT — Puget Sound. It’s the mesmerizing sea at our feet.
Fed by rivers, streams and runoff, it’s part of a complex ecological web. Trying to grasp the natural forces in play is a bewildering task. Almost as confusing are the number of programs and initiatives that strive to reverse man-made problems confronting a body of water that many consider the largest estuary in the United States.
A website Snohomish County launched this spring tries to make sense of those efforts. It’s part of the Puget Sound Initiative, which County Executive Dave Somers launched last year. For now, the goal is to improve upon things the county is doing already in the areas of water quality, habitat protection, and increasing the chances that key species can survive.
The county is engaged on a dozen fronts.
There’s work to take stock of hundreds of culverts along county roads that block salmon from migrating upstream. Another effort is attempting to replenish sand at coastal beaches where railroad tracks mostly cut off natural erosion. And there’s ongoing work at Smith Island, between Everett and Marysville, to bring back fish habitat in the Snohomish River delta.
Farther inland, more tree canopy can contribute to healthier marine waters. So can efforts to lessen toxic runoff from county roads and airport runways.
A recent grant seeks to boost a program to keep sewage out of local streams. The $100,000 award from the state Department of Health should allow the county to keep up a program to help owners repair aging or failing septic systems. That’s expected to prove particularly useful in the Stillaguamish River watershed, where the county has been unable to provide money through its Savvy Septic program for about a year.
The septic program, launched in 2014, has repaired or replaced about 70 failing systems with the help of grants and low-interest loans. It has also issued more than 370 rebates for septic-system inspections.
The result: an estimated 4.3 million gallons of additional wastewater has been treated before soaking into groundwater, streams or lakes.
You don’t have to fix a failing septic system to play a part protecting Puget Sound.
By using the MyCoast app, people can help track shoreline issues including king tides, storm surges, abandoned boats and creosote pilings. The app is set up for 12 beaches between Edmonds and Kayak Point.
For more information, go to www.pugetsoundinitiative.com.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @NWhaglund.
New app to track shoreline changes
Snohomish County and the local Marine Resources Advisory Committee have joined MyCoast, a smartphone app, to make it easy to monitor shoreline changes. The app allows beachgoers to submit photos of local beaches. Researchers can use time-lapse photography to understand the changes along the shorelines.
The MyCoast app has collected nearly 5,000 reports in coastal states, from Maine to Florida and Texas to Washington.
More info: www.mycoast.org/wa/snohomish.