Friday, February 3, 2012

On The Wrong Side of Wetlands

Permitted land development should not by law destroy the chemical, physical and biological functions of wetlands.  Any adverse effects should be avoided or mitigated on site.

But land developers are also allowed to destroy wetlands by paying for their creation or enhancement elsewhere. This ‘mitigation banking’ according to the state Department of Ecology has, “With proper implementation... the potential to increase ecological benefits, save money for project applicants, and improve efficiencies in application and permitting processes.” What is wetland mitigation banking?

King County, with the blessing of developers and the environmental group People For Puget Sound, has its own ‘banking’ system. Streamlined process for wetlands proposed

Justifying the destruction of wetlands by building wetlands somewhere else always struck a dissonant note but now a study, published in the January issue of PLoS Biology, examined data from more than 600 restored or man-made wetlands and found that in key ways, they don’t measure up to the real thing.

“It’s much better to protect what we have now than to keep degrading it and put in the kind of substitutes that are not going to recover in many, many years. Or they are not going to recover ever,” said David Moreno-Mateos, the study’s lead author.  Restored wetlands no match for real thing

We like Jerry Parker’s approach. In response to the news article in The Herald ( Snohomish wetland could become a major attraction for bird watchers  ) he wrote: “Enjoyed reading your article about a nature trail in the wetland  adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant.  Missing, however, was any mention of the relation between the wetland and the treatment plant.  Areas around the world are increasingly using wetlands to provide final treatment (polishing) for  wastewater.  Arcata CA has created vast wetlands on what was   previously a shoreline dump to provide not just final polishing but  most all of the treatment to its wastewater prior to discharge.

"A follow-up article might address this.”

--Mike Sato

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