Puget Sound Institute receives $4 million from EPA
The Institute will facilitate the scientific study and interdisciplinary cooperation needed to maintain a healthy Puget Sound.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced funding for the new Puget Sound Institute, a cooperative venture between the University of Washington Tacoma. Funded with $4 million from the EPA, the Puget Sound Institute is located at the Center for Urban Waters.
Under the direction of Joel Baker, science director at the Center for Urban Waters, the Puget Sound Institute will serve as a bridge between scientists and policy makers. The overall objective of the institute, according to the grant proposal is "to enhance the integration of science into the restoration and preservation of the Puget Sound ecosystem."
"This is one of the founding initiatives that will enable us to do the kind of work envisioned for UW Tacoma's involvement in Urban Waters — connecting scientists and policy makers on a daily basis," Baker said. "It's very exciting to see the momentum begin to build." Baker holds the Port of Tacoma Chair in Environmental Science at the University of Washington Tacoma.
"The Puget Sound is troubled. We have a lot of work to do," said Dennis McLerran, EPA regional administrator, in announcing the Puget Sound Institute, along with $9 million for 16 other projects designed to protect and restore Puget Sound.
"We need to look closer, and spend more time and money to find effective solutions based on the best-available science," he said.
At the meeting to announce the EPA grants, Congressman Norm Dicks and Congressman Adam Smith both spoke of the need for scientific study and interdisciplinary cooperation needed to maintain a healthy Puget Sound.
Dicks compared Puget Sound and Hood Canal to other water clean-up projects that have received much more federal assistance, such as Chesapeake Bay. "We're spending a lot of money on [other water bodies], but a pittance on Puget Sound," he said. Dicks added that the EPA allocated $50 million for Puget Sound study and preservation for this fiscal year, and expects another $50 million to be approved for next year.
"We're clearly on a restoration path," he said. "What we're doing is so important, and it's within our grasp."
Congressman Smith spoke about the importance of science and involving local governments in efforts to preserve Puget Sound. "That's why we fund scientists, to make sure we get the science right," he said. "Together we can tackle broader issues, critical to the survival of the Puget Sound and the planet."
The Puget Sound Institute's core mission, according to the grant proposal, is "to foster vigorous, balanced, relevant and timely analysis [and] review, synthesis and integration of environmental information, thereby ensuring that the best possible science informs the restoration and preservation of Puget Sound."
The institute will organize a range of activities, including study panels of leading experts who will address issues that challenge the restoration and preservation of Puget Sound, exchanging information with scientists and managers of other ecosystem restoration projects worldwide, and creating an online Encyclopedia of Puget Sound, modeled after the Encyclopedia of Earth, where scholars can exchange peer-reviewed technical information.
For more information on the Center for Urban Waters and the Puget Sound Institute, visit www.urbanwaters.org.