EPA OKs Puget Sound Action Agenda; Funding Will Follow
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave its "stamp of approval" on July 15 for the Puget Sound Action Agenda under the National Estuary Program (NEP), paving the way for the agenda to continue to receive federal funding.
EPA's action also signifies the agency's full commitment to helping carry out the agenda to protect and restore Puget Sound.
"I'm pleased to announce our approval of the Action Agenda," said Michelle Pirzadeh, EPA's acting regional administrator in Seattle. "This makes official what has been true all along: EPA is fully committed to bringing our resources to bear on the critically important work of protecting and restoring our treasured Puget Sound. We pledge to continue to act hand-in-hand with our partners—the state, tribes, local governments and citizens -- to ensure a healthy Sound for future generations."
Federal endorsement of the action agenda under Section 320 of the Clean Water Act means a common plan will guide restoration and protection efforts and provides access to federal funding, including $20 million in 2009.
Puget Sound is a national priority in EPA's Strategic Plan, on par with other great waterbodies and national treasures like the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes and is recognized as one of 28 estuaries of national significance under the NEP. Since 1995, more than $60 million in EPA appropriations have gone to Puget Sound estuary projects. The Action Agenda was announced last December by the Puget Sound Partnership and Washington Governor Gregoire. The ambitious agenda focuses not only on Puget Sound itself but also identifies actions in upland watersheds that will improve the health of the Sound.
The Action Agenda seeks to:
- Improve water quality in the Sound and nearby watersheds,
- Aid the recovery of species affected by pollution,
- Restore impaired water quality at beaches and shellfish beds, and
- Develop strategies to control toxic and bacterial contamination.
The plan also highlights the need to carefully consider the effects of development and population growth on Puget Sound.