The greatest threat to Puget Sound is what washes from our cities with the rain
By Alan Durning | August 2010 | FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Whether falling in a mist or a torrent, the Northwest’s rain is familiar and dependable. But as rainwater streams off roofs and across pavement, it picks up a toxic cocktail of substances such as chemicals to remove moss, crank case drips and lawn pesticides. Polluted stormwater runoff is the leading source of hazardous chemicals entering Washington’s largest body of water, making oysters and clams unsafe to eat, and sickening the region’s endangered orcas.
The volume of stormwater is staggering. With a heavy downpour, the equivalent of 10 bathtubs of rainwater streams off the roof of a typical home in the Puget Sound area. During a year, that’s 26,600 gallons of water gushing into gutters and storm drains from each house. In extreme cases, these deluges fill basements knee deep in muck, erode hillsides and wash out roadways. Heavy rains overwhelm sewer systems, flushing untreated sewage into public waterways.
So if Puget Sound is facing an environmental crisis, the rain is partly to blame.
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