I drank beer with a few folks the other night and talked about saving Puget Sound. The beer was good; the discussion, well, less than satisfying.
Talking about saving Puget Sound is less than satisfying the same way reading about how the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council addressed and approved the latest State of the Sound report. (“Little progress reported in Puget Sound health”)
According to the Sun article, there’s progress on reopening polluted commercial shellfish beds and restoring habitats but many other indicators of the Sound’s health— Chinook salmon and orca populations, herring stocks and eelgrass beds, and water quality— are not improving. The best that can be said is that it would be worse if nothing were being done, and that the problems weren’t created in a day and won’t be solved in a day.
So what do we know?
We know a lot of money has been spent but there’s not enough money to do what’s necessary. In fact, we might not know, exactly, how much money is needed but it’s a lot more than the $230 million a year that’s been spent since 2008.
We know what work’s been done thus far but we don’t know whether the work’s been effective because we can’t afford to monitor effectiveness and decide what actions work, what actions don’t work.
We think we know that people know the health of the Sound isn’t good but that doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in what they do in their lives. And, as Skagit County citizen Pete Haase told the Council, picking up dog poop isn’t going to save the Sound.
Uncap me another beer.
The Partnership and its Leadership Council seems mired in the same rut saving Puget Sound has been in for years and years: not enough money to get the job done right, not enough ways to show that spending the money and doing the work are making a real difference, and not enough people caring enough to insist that Puget Sound be protected and restored to health.
Where’s the leadership?
We need the leadership, political or otherwise, that says let’s protect the Sound by first enforcing existing laws that protect the Sound. It’s not an easy task but essential: Do No More Harm.
We need the leadership, political or otherwise, that brings together businesses, soccer moms, the hook-and-bullet crowd with whale huggers, tribes and local governments to establish an ongoing revenue source to put real money into cleaning up polluted runoff, restoring habitat and reopening polluted shellfish beds. It’s not an easy task but it has been done: the Centennial Clean Water Fund (the cigarette tax) is one example from the mid-’80s.
We need the leadership, political or otherwise, that gets on the road and into our communities to energize and publicize the many, many local efforts underway protecting and restoring parts of Puget Sound. It’s not an easy task but we need to build awareness of what’s at stake in saving Puget Sound neighbor-to-neighbor, project-by-project— and shape that constituency into one that insists that the Sound be protected and restored to health.
Enough beer for now. Where’s the leadership?
Look, tell me what you think, and I’ll buy the next round.