Partnership launches effort to clean up Puget Sound

MARYSVILLE The Puget Sound includes some 2,500 miles of shoreline, hooks up with 14 major rivers and has some 4 million people living along its borders.

The sound also is polluted and environmentally dying, according to Linda Lyshell of the Puget Sound Partnership.

Lyshell was one of two partnership members who spoke May 30 to the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce.

As proof of the ill health of the sound, Lyshell said the orcas who live there are and serve as one of the best known icons of northwestern Washington are considered the most contaminated whales in the world.

On the rare occasion that a dead orca washes up on one of the shores of the sound, Lyshell said the body must be treated as toxic waste. The body is not returned to the water as the carcass would release contaminants into the sound.

With that and other facts in mind, Lyshell said Gov. Christine Gregoire created the Puget Sound Partnership. Consisting of politicians, scientists, business leaders and other stakeholders, Lyshell described the partnership as one of the first major, coordinated efforts to try and revive the health of the sound.

"Our charge is fairly simple," added the partnership's Steve Sakuma, in what he probably meant as a major bit of understatement.

Sakuma said Gregoire wants the partnership to come up with a working plan to restore the sound to health by 2020. The group is scheduled to deliver its initial program to the governor by December of this year.

In the meantime, Sakuma said there are some basic questions which need answering: What state is the sound in? What constitutes a "healthy" sound? And, perhaps most importantly, how does the partnership see a healthy sound coming back into being?

Sakuma added that once a baseline picture of the current condition of the sound is established, one other major step is coming up with a means to measure the progress of any clean-up program. "Accountability" is a word Sakuma used repeatedly and a concept he said needs to be built into the partnership's efforts.

Lyshell and Sakuma made their brief presentation during the Marysville Tulalip Business Before Hours meeting. For more information, on the partnership, go to

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