Cleaning up our Duwamish Waterway

I’m committed to a healthy, vibrant Duwamish Waterway.

The Duwamish Waterway is important to our region for many reasons – from supporting our economy (80,000 jobs in the Duwamish industrial area) to meeting commercial and tribal fishing needs, and providing critical habitat or salmon and wildlife.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed the Lower Duwamish River – a five-mile stretch through South Seattle – as a federal Superfund site in 2001.

Since 2000, the Port of Seattle has been a partner of the Lower Duwamish Waterway Group (LDWG) working with the City of Seattle, King County and the Boeing Company on the environmental cleanup of the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site. LDWG’s goals are to protect public health, improve water quality, and restore vital areas of the river environment while making sure the Lower Duwamish Waterway remains a vibrant urban working waterway. This voluntary partnership enabled the investment of $190 million to study and cleanup the most contaminated sites in the Duwamish waterway.   Because of this partnership, by the end of 2015, PCB concentrations in the waterway are expected to be reduced by half.

The January 2015 release of the EPA’s final cleanup plan is a huge milestone that gets us closer to a cleaner, healthier waterway. EPA’s cleanup decision will address the remaining contamination, and when complete, will address 90 percent of the pollution in the waterway.

I also believe the Port should work collaboratively with our community to reach our shared goals of a healthy community, including through the Duwamish Valley Healthy Communities Initiative.   This Initiative has brought much needed attention to community health impacts, particularly potential health disparities.

Making sure the river stays healthy after cleanup is also a major priority of mine, and this means we must keep new pollution out of the waterway. Again, the Port, city, county and private parties have critical roles to play in this effort. Annually, the Port of Seattle seaport treats 1.2 billion gallons of stormwater runoff from 1,560 acres of facilities.  We must continue to invest in innovative ways to address these issues – and partner with private business to ensure stormwater treatment is a priority.