Center for Urban Waters Work Highlighted as U.S. EPA Announces $36M in Puget Sound Funding
Local, state, federal and tribal science and policy leaders cited work by UW Tacoma/WSU’s Washington Stormwater Center to identify a toxic tire preservative.
A who’s who of science policy and research leaders convened at the Center for Urban Waters in Tacoma recently to celebrate the announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of $36 million in grant funds for Puget Sound recovery and conservation.
Prior to the speeches, Prof. Ed Kolodziej led state, federal and tribal elected officials and agency heads on a tour of the UW Tacoma research labs at the Center. He explained that although scientists have known for 20 years that coho salmon are dying in Northwest streams before they have a chance to spawn, researchers from UW and Washington State University collaborated on innovative methods to uncover the source of the problem.
Kolodziej, who holds a joint appointment with UW Tacoma’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences and Civil & Environmental Engineering on UW’s Seattle campus, and Jenifer McIntyre, an assistant professor in WSU’s School of the Environment, led a team of researchers who isolated a vehicle tire preservative known as 6PPD and its byproduct, 6PPD-quinone, as the salmon killer.
That collaboration was highlighted by several speakers at the EPA event as the kind of research that is needed to protect human health and promote ecological restoration.
“The 6PPD discovery is a perfect example of the vision of collaboration fostered by the Clean Water Act and the powerful, focused partnership that we’ve built for Puget Sound,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “It’s remarkable that this discovery happened right here in Tacoma.”
EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe lauded the role of U.S. Reps. Marilyn Strickland and Derek Kilmer in securing funding that supported the 6PPD research.
“Thank you for the vision of Congressman Kilmer and others who knew that we needed to be investing in opportunities to do this kind of research,” said McCabe. She announced a new EPA workgroup to focus on 6PPD. “This will bring researchers, implementers and policymakers together across the agency with the leadership of Regional Administrator Sixkiller and his staff, to make sure that we are figuring out the resources and authorities we have to help solve this problem here.”
Other speakers at the event included Sarah Rumbaugh, Tacoma City Council; Laura Blackmore, Puget Sound Partnership Executive Director; Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland; Congressman Derek Kilmer; Lisa Wilson (Lummi Nation), Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Vice Chair; Chris Conklin, Wash. Department of Fish & Wildlife; Secretary Umair A. Shah, Wash. Department of Health; and Laura Watson, Wash. Department of Ecology Director.