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Keeping Puget Sound Clean

Keeping Puget Sound Clean

From protecting natural resources to creating national monuments to introducing progressive legislation, Washington State has secured its position as an environmental leader within the nation.

As is often the case, though, there is still progress to make.

Untreated sewage has been polluting Washington’s waterways for years. Aside from the “ick factor,” sewage dumped from vessels into the Puget Sound impacts human health, degrades water quality, threatens local shellfish, and contaminates beaches.

A solution to this problem has been years in the making: Activists have worked tirelessly to make Puget Sound a No Discharge Zone (NDZ). This would make it illegal for ships and boats to dump sewage of any kind—treated or untreated—into the water. Instead, ships would use services called pump-out facilities to empty their stored sewage into specific containers.

Since 2016, Friends of the Earth’s members have submitted roughly 35,000 public comments in support of turning Puget Sounds into a NDZ, advocating for clean water and public health.

And Washington finally listened.

In April 2018, Washington’s government approved the NDZ, spanning it across all of the state’s marine waterways.

This NDZ proves that the state cares about environmental advocacy; however, there is still work to do. Some vessels are still allowed to release sewage for the time being and others have been granted an extended timeline to comply with the rule. 

Overall, the Puget Sound NDZ is overall a fantastic, hard-earned success. Five years of environmental activism will clean the state’s waterways, protect public health, and boost local economy. This is a major win for both Washington and our planet.