Puget Sound Pollution

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Other

Document 1

In the past, human population found Puget Sound in rich abundance of natural resources that had been able to sustain different populations of animals and populations for many years. New developments and growth of technologies around the world allowed destruction and exploitation of these resources to unsustainable levels, destroying the self-replenishment system that nature had sustained for all the years in the past. Trees were cut to create more spaces for buildings and farming leading to soil erosion and destruction of resources. Some species of animals were also harvested leading to extinction or extremely threatened leading to their decline. Waterways and other forms of Puget Sound were used as dumpsite locations increasing the pressure on our natural resources. Humans were more concerned about chemical pollutants and forgot that pollution is caused by chemical, physical, or biological contaminants when they are in excess of their natural range. Humans did not focus on pollutants from sewage, industrial agriculture, stormwater runoff, fuel production, and fossils (Quinn, 13). Such pollutants have increasingly led to pollution of Puget Sound and put many water animals at high risk of death and decline in their numbers. Regardless of the good appearance, sometimes referred to as pristine looks, the water is in bad shape due to these pollutants. Polluting run-offs is threatening the lives of marine mammals, salmon, and the ecosystem at large with humans also included. The pollution is a threat to the provision of good and quality water (Zank et al. The paper will discuss the issue of Puget Sound ecosystem pollution, its causes, and how the issue has been addressed in the past in terms of government regulations.

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Restoration process and individual responsibilities of every citizen will also be highlighted. Background Information Before humans cut down all trees and cleared forests and vegetation to erect their buildings and industries, the ecosystem comprised of healthy soils, lush vegetation and forests spread all over the land. When it rained, the drops of water would first land on trees before being absorbed by rich soils in the forests. Absorption of water slowed the water stopping any runoffs, and cleaned the rainwater before being deposited in Puget Sound. Erection of roads, tall buildings, and houses provide a hard surface, thus, rainwater cannot be absorbed leading to runoffs. To create a good drainage system, humans build storm drains which pipe all rainwater away from towns and cities into the lakes, streams and the sound.

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The natural system that had all along absorbed rainwater providing a healthy ecosystem has now been replaced by pipes leading to water runoffs. The runoffs cause flooding and soil erosion. When oil gets into the Puget Sound, it forms a thick and strong sludge or eutrophication since it does not dissolve in water. Eutrophication reduces the oxygen dissolved in water which suffocates fish and other marine animals (Cardinal, 22). As various marine birds swim in the water, the sludge sticks in their feathers which hinder them from flying. Marine birds also depend on their feathers to keep them warm. When oil sticks on their feathers, they are exposed to cold and chills causing death. When human eat such fish, the poison enters into their systems causing many diseases (Quinn, 31). Such pollution affects water quality in Puget Sound and puts many marine lives and humans at risk.

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Non-Point Source Puget pollution Marine debris In the past, the ecosystem consisted of many forests that prevented any logs from finding their way into Puget Sound. With deforestation, there is nothing to stop these logs and the rainwater carries them to waterways and Puget Sound leading to pollution. Debris also occurs from human trash and other discarded equipment which enters the ocean (Martin, 103). With hard surfaces due to the erection of buildings and roads, the rainwater is not absorbed in soils leading to floods and runoffs. Rain washes fertilizers, chemicals, oil, litter, and auto fluids from the land down into water pathbodies. Urban runoff contains toxic chemicals and wastes which kills marine lives in Puget Sound environment. A study conducted by Feist et al. found that stormwater is the leading cause of deaths in Puget sounds and endangers the extinction of other species in Puget Sound.

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Continual monitoring efforts should also be carried out to ensure the health of the ecosystem is improved, maintained, and managed for sustainable utilization of natural resources. With increased urbanization causing urban sprawls and rapid population growth, mitigation measures of protecting Puget Sound are paramount to ensure its health is recovered and maintained sustainably for future generations. Endangered species in Puget Sound ecosystem is an environmental concern to all ecologists and members of society. Recovery of the Puget Sound would also require the understanding of the interdependencies between humans and nature in Puget Sound basin region (Aburto et al. Human beings benefit from natural ecosystem services, and humans have a potential of disrupting natural environment through their activities. Collection of water benefits both the locals and ensures that the pollutants are prevented from getting into waterways and the Puget Sound.

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Washington State initiated the use of combined sewer system where wastewater and stormwater share the same pipes. Heavy rainfall can, however, increase the pressure of stormwater which together with sewer can overflow and get in lakes, streams, and Puget Sound leading to pollution. Initiating rainwater collection points reduces the volume of stormwater in the pipes reducing chances for overflow and pollution. Department of ecology and Port of Olympia have collaborated and aligned their mitigation efforts to ensure the issue is addressed fully. LID also engages with the local population to sensitize them on the importance of maintaining the natural vegetation in the ecosystem and reducing the impacts of exploited areas. The techniques help in reducing runoffs and allow rainwater to be infiltrated into the groundwater, the same way the natural ecosystem functions.

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Washington State has developed policies that require all new construction projects to adopt LID (Feist et al. Such approach helps in restoring Puget Sound ecosystem through improving water quality and protecting marine lives in this environment. Developing a restoration process to address Puget Sound pollution Restoration techniques are aimed at returning the ecosystem to its natural, pre-disturbance, and self-sustaining conditions. Feasibility tests regarding any restoration efforts should then be carried out to help in understanding and addressing various political, social, ecological, and economic concerns among different parties. Feasibility test that should be conducted in Puget Sound restoration should include testing for contaminants, flood analyses, identification of possible findings, habitats and species surveys, data, photographs, and historical maps examination ((Cereghino, 51). Feasibility test should also provide an analysis of cost-benefit factors and develop performance standards for restoration measures.

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The next process is the adoption of appropriate management measures which are effective for Puget Sound ecosystem. Such adoption would require the team to understand and define the real causes of Puget Sound degradation and critically think about the best intervention measures for addressing the causes of pollution in this environment (Cardinal, 55). What to do as an individual Addressing Puget Sound pollution is a collective responsibility and requires everyone in society to engage in restoration and mitigation efforts. As an individual, one should avoid engaging in activities that cause pollution in Puget Sound such as excessive use of plastics and use of chemicals in farms. Car owners should also repair their vehicles and fix any oil leaks. An individual should also raise awareness among friends and relatives regarding the issue of Puget Sound pollution to help in addressing the environmental concern.

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One can also participate in volunteer activities aimed at cleaning the environment and Puget shoreline ecosystem. Ecosystem-based management for the oceans. Island Press, 2012. Alper, Donald K. Emerging collaborative frameworks for environmental governance in the Georgia basin‐Puget sound ecosystem. Journal of Borderlands Studies 19. Ecological Applications 27. Horner, R. A. et al. Spatial distribution of benthic cysts of Alexandrium catenella in surface sediments of Puget Sound, Washington, USA. Fresh, KL, and Dinicola, RS, eds (2010): 11-18. Spirandelli, Daniele. Patterns of Wastewater Infrastructure along a Gradient of Coastal Urbanization: A Study of the Puget Sound Region. Land 4. Wellman, Katharine F. Journal of Shellfish Research 28. Zank, Ben, et al. Modeling the effects of urban expansion on natural capital stocks and ecosystem service flows: a case study in the Puget Sound, Washington, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning 149 (2016): 31-42.

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