Conversations with Chirs Wilke 062418

Friday, June 29th


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

What computer conversations I'm your host Gregor thanks for spending some time both here this weekend tournament this segment is Chris Wilkie he's the executive director of the Puget Sound keep her alive that's good morning hi thanks for having me here absolutely the beautiful waters that's around our gorgeous cities in the Pacific northwest are constantly under threat of the humans who enjoyed them luckily a team of concerned citizens and an army of volunteers are keeping an eye out on the Puget Sound to help keep it clean and healthy for everyone so. Chris I guess into the specifics here in a minute but we'll start by each time you just tell what Puget Sound keeper it's. Well Puget Sound keepers a local water Carly watchdog. We are members of the international water keeper alliance. And we patrol waters of Puget Sound where community based. We enforce the Clean Water Act against illegal pollution and we helped volunteers clean up trash we hopes that policy in Olympia we do a lot of things all related to the water. And you are not just executive director you were also. Z Puget Sound keeper yeah that's part of our model is you have a single person who has the lead advocate was identified as the water keeper in our case it's the Puget Sound keeper I assumed it would be everyone that works there would be eight Puget Sound keeper but indeed it's one person. That's that's part of the models started on the Hudson River in a New York State. And it's now spread throughout the world we have 340. Community based what are keepers. I'm on six continents and 41 different countries around the world. That's amazing day if you mentioned a minute ago the Clean Water Act that's back from the early seventy's yeah the other Clean Water Act I was passed in 1972. Over presidential Vito actually mixing gets lot of credit for signing and Clean Water Act but actually he vetoed it and in congress overrode that so that lets you know. How popular it was. That they were able to get that kind of support. And what was happening in the sixties it's bad oil spills we had a lot of scares around DDT. And we exit rivers that were catching fire because they had so much oil in them I like the Cuyahoga River famously caught fire. Mittal made the president exe cup fire several times it so. People were fed up with that and they marched on the first Earth Day in April 22 1970. And then within three years we have to Clean Water Act the Clean Air Act the Endangered Species Act the national environmental policy act and the creation of the EPA. So really was the people that stood up and says enough is enough we care about our environment. And we want. See you protected so that's what worries me a little bit that over time you know the old the baggage of history repeats itself we find ourselves stepping away from some of these regulations and firm distancing ourselves do you see ground zero on the in front lines you do see people have forgotten about just what it was that made the Clean Water Act happened back in the early seventies. Well I I don't think people over and about they. Error. Love of the water in the and the universal value of clean water. The UN considers it a basic human right. But certainly. The polluters of the world's. Tend to like to use our waterways. As a ways of of getting rid of their ways stand. External rising their pollution and they like to see as permissible policies is possible. But the Clean Water Act is very clear because it is structured to maintain so mobile drinkable fissionable waters throughout the country that's the law. And all the permits and all the regulations issued under that have to protect those basic uses of the waterways. System is a political. So. What are the threats specifically that the Puget Sound is under like you're talking fish populations and pollution Zoellick what are we looking at two you're battling on the did Davis is that wall. At a macro level I think what we're seeing is we are seeing. Impaired waterways which mean they no longer support those basic uses of soup visible slow mobile. We're seeing declining salmon populations in particular. Which some of the populations are less than 10% of their historic values and some armor even less than 1% of sponsored by his. And then we have our signature species here and orca whales are basically starving because of lack of salmon. And b.s survival almost exclusively on chinook salmon which earned the largest Thaddeus and rarest of all the salmon species so. We won't recover oracle whales honestly recover salmon there really are an indicator species. They'd link from a salt water and the fresh water because they return of the rivers despondent. So the health of the forest depends on salmon they hope the marine waters depends on salmon. And so that's really what we are struggling began stairs also. Other kill bacteria. Closures that affects shellfish beds and swimming beaches and recreation and that kind of thing. But specifically. The threats that we are focusing on the number one threat to Puget Sound as first toxic pollution in storm water it's them. Everyday run off off of our streets roads rooftops parking lots. That contributes more toxic pollution the Puget Sound and any other source. So. There's things that individuals can do but we have to remember to hold our cities and counties and industries accountable as well. So just as it's important for people to pick up their dog poop and fix a leak in their car. If you're an industry or scrap yard or port terminal. You may have to install two water treatment system to treat that storm water before it goes into the day. And that's what the Clean Water Act essentially requires that enforcing that is that the US the global assets relief efforts and we are one of MP enforcers of the clean we've brought over a 150 cases. And we've never lost a Clean Water Act enforcement case affect if you go out and Elliott bay. Oh in votes and you look around and all the industries. Around today. I'm right here in Seattle almost every one of mom is under consent decree with Puget Sound keeper to install water treatment systems so the grain terminal. The railroad. Yard. The all of the port terminals with the armed with a container ports. Cruise ship terminal. So. These that we use the lie we use the permanent ink system to bring the polluters into compliance and to get them to treat their storm water before it in manners the public waters which we all the we all Holden in trust this other common waters that the born to all of us. There were several years ago we had good significant snowfall and the the result backlash against using salt to get the snow to dissipate on the streets is outside that you guys would be involved and trying to prevent that's that wave doesn't find its way to the Puget Sound that. Something I'm really interested in a mom and it's nothing we have gotten in directly involved in. I would think that it primarily affects the small creeks. When you have a lot of runoff that's going in to a small stream. Coerced chum salmon are still has returning that time a year. Adding that extra salt it's usually a mineral salts so it's not just sodium chloride. We think they're really has to be looked out as far as what effect that is having an ecosystem. And I notice in particular. They just seemed assaults at the slightest chance of a freeze now it is used to be only for that. When we really knew their doors gonna be like freezing rain or something like that. Now for the likes projected to drop below 32 it seems like they're salty here thanks so I think it's a little extreme it probably means we looked at. Chris Wilkie is the executive director of the Puget Sound keeper alliance and the Puget Sound keeper himself let's go to also meant three principles that you work with them monitoring and enforcement policy in civic engagement and stewardship and education keep it goes down individually. The first served well the first thing that really identifies us as a water keepers are monitoring enforcement so we're on the water every week either by voter kayak or both. I'm patrolling our waterways. Cleaning up trash will we find it. Educating the public but also taking water samples. And tracking pollution incidents he's. A couple of years ago we saw a mile long oil spill on the two Armas river actually. It had been reported yet so. We've got the authorities involved in that so that's that's essentially are monitoring efforts enforcement we very covered citizens arm powered under the Clean Water Act. To bring cases in federal court. In there and stewardship and education is huge we involve over 2000 volunteers a year. We have a bunch of clean up events coming up this summer. We're going to be on lake union on July 5 cleaning up the fireworks debris after the big auto and resentment about that yeah it's it's all out there early early in the morning. So we do like fifty clean up two year removing 10121000 pounds of trash. On a few days of the year especially in September work actually counting the trash were actually. Category using it in terms of candy wrappers. A medical ways still construction Dwyer was September with its international coastal cleanup we and are in the Puget Sound coordinator for that it's the largest volunteer. Event in the world for the environment and we are there regional coordinator for. Puget Sound is through via Ocean Conservancy worldwide. You said you have 2000 volunteers a year is that you're engaging what is their work actually look like what are they doing to help out. Law none of these Saturday morning cleanups that we often do. It's a matter of having you know 10200 people show up at an event you can find them on our website at Peterson keeper dot org. He can sign up there and you show up in suites give you all the supplies and go clean up the trash that you see and sometimes were on the lake and kayaks and sometimes from walking the beaches. But plastic pollution. Is a particular problem for the oceans because it does not go away does not bio degrade. Even what they called by a biodegradable plastics there's really no standard for that. So essentially every piece of plastic it's ever been littered into our waterways is still out there unless somebody has cleaned it up. So we definitely need to read news or use a single use plastics we need to look at the pathways of how that's getting in the water. But also it is a little it's more than just. Park beautification it's been really as waterway restoration and when you lend a hand and helped clean up. Trash in the in the water. Good point we're just is an individual can keep. A look calico is a deception pass on the beach there last week it delighted to just keep my eyes open for things that I see and clean up. Yeah I mean I know people who do that it's not just me just. This and not just my staff. No people will be numbering a trash bag to the beach and enjoy the beach in Nam before you head back to your car. Philip the trash bag. And don't leave a cleaner than you found has agreed ethnic I know you. Like us to read a zillion dollar donation check to make everything possible for forever but how can we get involved in just on a very simple local volunteers helping out yeah well of of course we do exist on donations and I'm fact membership is very important to Puget Sound cheaper because it gives us more power. In Olympia gives us more power in Washington DC. When people know that we have a larger memberships or if it also allows that's what allows us to bring. Our litigation so we'd love it if you join the organization and but just showing up in volunteering. You can and go online to our website Pugh sent keeper dot org you can see about the upcoming events. Signed. Most of them are kid friendly so youth in it's a bring kids. And we also have boat patrols. Where we go the dorms river and on lake union you can sign up for those. Occasionally we need a hand with fundraising events. So there's all kinds of opportunities ever almost every week also it's Chris will gauge is the executive director. And Puget Sound keeper for the Puget Sound keeper alliance you can find out more Puget Sound keeper dot ORG Chris that you don't expect bigger. Conversations with the public affairs program of this station.