Reduce Human & Animal Waste
Significantly reducing pollution from human and animal waste and other sources of pathogen and nutrient pollution is one of the 8 key objectives that has been established in law for the ‘Puget Sound Partnership‘.
What is the problem?
Human and animal waste contains high levels of nutrients (such as nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorous) and pathogens (such as harmful bacteria and viruses). These pollutants can enter the Puget Sound waters from a variety of sources including:
Septic systems Focus on high-risk areas Sewage treatment plants Runoff from farms with livestock Fertilizers Waste discharges from boats and ships Pet waste left on the ground
Excess nutrients can disrupt the functions of a healthy ecosystem. For instance, too much nitrogen in marine waters can speed up and multiply the growth of phytoplankton (microscopic algae). As the phytoplankton die and decompose, they sink to the bottom and use up oxygen in the process. During this cycle, fish, crabs, shrimp, and other marine organisms can die from lack of oxygen.
The problem of low-dissolved oxygen came to light in Hood Canal in 2002 when marine life washed up on the shores, having essentially suffocated from lack of oxygen. Other areas of Puget Sound, including portions of South Sound and Whidbey basin, appear to be sensitive to excess nutrients.
Human and animal wastes are the source of most pathogens in Puget Sound. Viruses, some bacteria and parasites can make people and animals sick.
Pollution from pathogens, which is commonly measured using fecal coliform bacteria, has been the cause of widespread shellfish closures throughout Puget Sound.