Puget Sound Institute to Host Scientific Forum on Low-Oxygen Problem
July 22, 2022
A UW Tacoma research group will bring together scientists from around the region to build consensus on solutions to a vexing and harmful water quality issue.
(Image above: The “tomato soup” color in waters near Edmonds was produced by a dinoflagellate called Noctiluca scintillans, one of many types of algae that can grow rapidly in the presence of excess nitrogen and sunlight. Photo (2013): Jeri Cusimano via Wash. Department of Ecology (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/ecologywa/8744775119)
For decades, researchers have been advancing their understanding of what causes the harmful and sometimes deadly low-oxygen problems afflicting some areas of Puget Sound. Computer models have been developed to replicate conditions and point the way to possible solutions.
Experts generally agree that excess nitrogen flowing into Puget Sound contributes to the low-oxygen conditions. What is needed now, some argue, is a stronger regionwide consensus around solutions to the problem. That could mean coming to terms with research findings, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the models, and figuring out the most effective ways of reducing nitrogen sources.
Expanding the discussion to all interested parties is the thinking behind a series of 10 workshops, coordinated by the Puget Sound Institute (PSI), that will begin on Tuesday, July 26, and continue into next year. The workshops will build on previous discussions, such as the Washington Department of Ecology’s Nutrient Forum and a forthcoming Marine Water Quality Implementation Strategy that will help focus actions for Puget Sound restoration, said Stefano Mazzilli, senior scientist at PSI who is leading the discussions.
“We are focused on the scientific uncertainties that regional collaboration can advance in the next year,” Mazzilli said, adding that modeling may support immediate as well as long-term recovery actions, as the effort builds confidence in the environmental benefits of various options.
PSI is an independent group within the University of Washington, providing analysis, research and communication about Puget Sound protection and restoration.
Ryan Berry, PDC alum of PDC Lean Six Sigma Green and Black Belt and Project Management courses, found transformational cultural change at his workplace through the implementation of the knowledge he gained through professional development at UW Tacoma.