Improving Water Quality

Addressing Current Pollution Issues
Shellfish Water QualityFor the past one-hundred and fifty years, the waters of Puget Sound have been subjected to increasing human population and activity. The Suquamish Tribe is involved, along with many other organizations, in finding ways to address pollution problems so that marine resources can thrive and are safe for wildlife and human consumption. The Suquamish Fisheries Environmental Program is addressing many of the toxic hot spots within Suquamish’s Usual and Accustomed fishing grounds (U&A) including Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in the Duwamish River, creosote seeping from sediments in Eagle Harbor, and WW II bombs still lying on the seafloor near Jackson Park in Dyes Inlet.

Dyes Inlet Re-Certification
The Shellfish program is focused on the current sources of pollution that cause shellfish to be unfit to eat. In the 1990’s the Tribe began working with the US Navy, the City of Bremerton, the Kitsap County Health Department and the Washington Department of Health (WDOH) to assess water quality in Dyes Inlet, a historic tribal harvest location. The City of Bremerton was built on the hills surrounding Dyes Inlet, and its dated sewage system allowed much pollution to spill into the inlet during heavy rains. Suquamish requested that the city of Bremerton engage in substantial efforts to upgrade its sewer system. Meanwhile, the Tribe initiated significant water quality sampling throughout the inlet. Joining in those efforts, the US Navy created a water circulation model using data from dye and drogue surveys conducted by Suquamish. In December 2003, WDOH re-certified parts of Dyes Inlet as “Conditionally Approved” for human consumption. After additional work and sewer treatment plant upgrades, additional areas were certified as “Approved” in the following years.

Ongoing Efforts
The Tribe is continuously working with local, state and federal agencies in maintaining high water quality standards and improving areas to achieve these standards. Suquamish Shellfish Staff monitor water quality in the Central Puget Sound area on a regular basis with the WDOH. The Tribe continuously supports and provides resources to a variety of projects aimed at improving coastal habitat and water quality, including olympia oyster restoration, bull kelp beds restoration, Ocean Acidification research and monitoring, and eelgrass surveys. Some areas where these efforts are taking place include Oyster Bay, Ostrich Bay and Liberty Bay among others in Puget Sound. Over the years our staff has learned that hard work, perseverance, collaboration and patience pay off when tackling pollution issues that seem insurmountable