'Puget Sound Initiative' Offers Controls for Small Business

As part of a greater "Puget Sound Initiative" to clean up the Sound, small businesses from across the region will get onsite technical assistance to control and prevent toxic pollution sources.

The Puget Sound Initiative is a collaborative effort – by local, tribal, state and federal governments, business, agricultural and environmental interests, and the public – to restore and protect the Sound.

Together, the Department of Ecology of Olympia, Wash., and the Puget Sound Partnership announced the funding selection of 12 Puget Sound local governments to hire business assistance specialists who will help small businesses prevent pollution and improve business practices.

Most local governments already help small businesses safely manage hazardous and solid wastes. The state money for interagency contracts from Gov. Chris Gregoire and the 2007 legislature boosts these programs as part of a comprehensive effort to restore Puget Sound.

"Small businesses play a critical role in the overall economic vitality of our state and local communities," said Gov. Gregoire. "A clean environment is crucial to our quality of life and Washington’s competitive position in a global economy. Thousands of small businesses will benefit from the guidance that these local, on-the-ground specialists provide."

The specialists will work directly with small businesses to:

• Conduct site visits to identify pollution sources.
• Advise businesses about pollution prevention measures.
• Help businesses understand the regulations and permits they need.
• Lend assistance to help promote sustainable business practices.

"It is better to prevent pollution than to clean up wastes after they are formed. Technical assistance will save businesses money by helping them control the amount of waste they generate, hopefully preventing the need for expensive cleanups later on," said Ecology Director Jay Manning.

Nearly 70 percent of the businesses that generate hazardous waste in Washington are in the Puget Sound region.

A recent Ecology report found that “surface-water runoff” from land is generally the largest contributor of toxic chemicals to the Sound. Surface-water runoff, according to the report, includes stormwater, groundwater that discharges into rivers and streams, and many different sources of pollution from the land with no obvious points of discharge.

All of the 12 Puget Sound governments will use the money to hire at least one business specialist. Kitsap County Public Works, for instance, will be able to use the money to hire two specialists.

Individual contracts range from about $125,000 up to $270,000. The 2007-09 operating budget contains $2.1 million for the Puget Sound source control program. It is supported by Ecology and the Partnership.

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