San Juan County's greatest assets
are its environment, the natural beauty of the
islands and its marine waters, and the diversity of the plants, fish and
wildlife that share our County with us.
But we need to take care of these assets for their many benefits and for the enjoyment of our present and future generations.
There are signs of trouble:
- On an average day, an estimated 140,000 pounds of toxic chemicals – including petroleum, copper,
lead, zinc, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – enter Puget Sound.
- About 75% of the toxic chemicals getting to the Sound are carried by stormwater that
runs off paved roads and driveways, rooftops, yards and other developed land.
- 21 species of fish and wildlife are now classified as threatened or endangered.
- Salmon numbers have steeply declined, in some cases to less than 10% of their historic levels.
In 2006, 92% of recreational shellfish beaches were closed or under an advisory.
More than 1,000 rivers and lakes in the Puget Sound region are listed as impaired.
“Dead Zones” now exist in Hood Canal and South Sound.
Puget Sound contains some of the most toxic marine mammals in the world.
- Harbor seals in Puget Sound were found to be seven times more contaminated with the persistent toxic chemicals than those inhabiting the adjacent Strait of Georgia in Canada.
- Transient and southern resident [orcas] are considered to be “among the most PCB-contaminated mammals on the planet.”
Because of these trends, and the inherent vulnerability of our single-source drinking water aquifer, we are asking businesses to really pay attention to the small details and watch the drips and small leaks. In isolation these small impacts from any one of us are negligible. However, as our population continues to grow, especially here in the islands (the population is expected to increase by 60% in San Juan County by 2025), the combined impacts of all of our drips and leaks are becoming more significant.