Saturday, July 25, 2009

EPA Approves Puget Sound Action Plan with Funding to Follow

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave its "stamp of approval" on July 15 for the Puget Sound Action Agenda under the National Estuary Program (NEP), paving the way for the agenda to continue to receive federal funding. This move also indicates that the agency is fully committed to helping carry out an agenda to protect an restore the Puget Sound.

"I'm pleased to announce our approval of the Action Agenda," said Michelle Pirzadeh, EPA's acting regional administrator in Seattle. "This makes official what has been true all along: EPA is fully committed to bringing our resources to bear on the critically important work of protecting and restoring our treasured Puget Sound. We pledge to continue to act hand-in-hand with our partners—the state, tribes, local governments and citizens -- to ensure a healthy Sound for future generations."

Federal endorsement of the action agenda under Section 320 of the Clean Water Act means a common plan will guide restoration and protection efforts and provides access to federal funding, including $20 million in 2009.

Puget Sound is a national priority in EPA's Strategic Plan, on par with other great waterbodies and national treasures like the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes and is recognized as one of 28 estuaries of national significance under the NEP. Since 1995, more than $60 million in EPA appropriations have gone to Puget Sound estuary projects. The Action Agenda was announced last December by the Puget Sound Partnership and Washington Governor Gregoire. The ambitious agenda focuses not only on Puget Sound itself but also identifies actions in upland watersheds that will improve the health of the Sound.

The Action Agenda seeks to: Improve water quality in the Sound and nearby watersheds, Aid the recovery of species affected by pollution, Restore impaired water quality at beaches and shellfish beds, and Develop strategies to control toxic and bacterial contamination.

The plan also highlights the need to carefully consider the effects of development and population growth on Puget Sound. The EPA has also made a call for citizen input and is allowing comments on their site.

Please take the time to visit and provide your thought about what you think are the highest priorities to help protect Puget Sound. Your input will help guide efforts to implement the Puget Sound Partnership Action Agenda over the next two years. You may use the provided form below, or email your suggestions to Daniel Steinborn at The feedback period will end July 31, 2009 and the EPA asks you to focus on:

  • What general issues or types of projects should be given higher priority?
  • Are there subregions or specific locations within Puget Sound that need priority attention? If so, where are they and what do they need?

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