news-iconLocal News: Water

Below are sustainability-related news items throughout the Western Washington University and Bellingham-area. These items correspond to Water.

Sustainability wall opens in Wilson Library

June 5, 2014 |
Western Today
The sustainability wall is now open in Wilson Library at Western Washington University.

A collaborative project of Western Libraries, the Office of Sustainability and the AS Environmental Center, this wall provides Western with a central and public location where the campus community can find out about environmental and sustainability events. The wall is located near the north entrance to the Wilson Library between Zoe’s bagels and the Tutoring Center.

Western leads largest-ever Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

May 7, 2014 |
Western Today
This past week in Seattle, Western led the largest-ever Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. The Conference brought more than 1,200 of the top professionals in marine science, shoreline management, fisheries and related fields, as well as policymakers, Tribal and First Nations leaders and industry stakeholders from around British Columbia and Washington state.

Western was well-represented at the conference, with 30-plus presentations and posters offered by WWU faculty and students. Ben Miner, as associate professor of biology, presented his research on Sea Star Wasting Syndrome and its effects on Sea Star populations along the West Coast of North America. He presented data on the patterns, lab experiments and genetic work that is being done on Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. The experimental work for Miner’s research is being done at Western, with collaborators at Cornell University and University of California, Santa Cruz.

Scientists narrow in on syndrome killing off starfish along Pacific coast

May 4, 2014 |
CTV News
VANCOUVER -- Scientists are making some headway in figuring out what is killing millions of sea stars in the waters off the Pacific coast, from British Columbia to Mexico.

While a definitive answer eludes them, researchers suggest a pathogen -- either bacterial or viral -- is responsible for the death toll.

"We don't have an absolute answer yet," said Lesanna Lahner, a veterinarian at the Seattle Aquarium, after presenting the latest information at the Salish Sea Ecosystem conference in Seattle last week.

U.S., Canadian, tribal leaders discuss Salish Sea's environmental, economic concerns

April 30, 2014 |
The Bellingham Herald
This isn't breaking news, but salmon and orcas don't stop at the border. They don't show passports and clear customs or shop at the duty-free store.

The environment doesn't stop at the border and neither does the economy. A healthy economy depends on a healthy environment and we must work across the border with our Canadian and tribal/First Nations partners to ensure both.

Rain gardens in the works

April 11, 2014 |
The Western Front
The construction of 36 rain gardens will help filter water pollution in downtown Bellingham and is set to start the beginning of May, said Rose Lathrop, green building and smart growth manager for Sustainable Connections.

Rain gardens sit slightly below street level and use sidewalk curves as gutters to funnel street runoff into planted areas that range in size and shape, said Freeman Anthony, City of Bellingham project engineer.

Scientist: Lake Whatcom's problems persist, but are not getting worse

April 9, 2014 |
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM - The quality of Lake Whatcom water may have stabilized, but it will likely take decades to get the city's drinking water source back to near-pristine levels.

So says Robin Matthews, lead scientist on the team that conducts an annual study of the lake's water commissioned by the city. Tests of 2013 water samples show that levels of most-watched pollutants have been holding relatively steady for several years.

Bottled water ban officially hits campus

April 4, 2014 |
The Western Front
Students and staff involved with The Bottled Water Free Initiative are working to make sustainable water more accessible on campus after the sale of bottled water was banned Tuesday, April 1.

Western will install a ‘hydration station’ outside of Zoe’s Bagels by the end of April, Students for Sustainable Water member Carolyn Bowie said.

Western to end sale of bottled water on campus

March 12, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Washington University will end the sale and distribution of bottled water on campus on April 1, an effort initiated by students to enhance sustainability at Western.

Western now is the largest college or university, public or private, in the state of Washington to end the sale of bottled water on its campus.

Related Articles: AP Press Release, The Bellingham Herald, King5, SFGate, Q13 FOX, 790 KGMI (Podcast)

Western will become national leader for bottled water ban

March 4, 2014 |
The Western Front
Thirteen students chanted the phrase “plastic is evil” in Western Washington University's Red Square to promote the upcoming ban on bottled water sales on campus, which will start in April.

Fairhaven’s Right to Water class and the Students for Sustainable Water club worked together on the demonstration, which took place Monday, March 3, to inform students about the ban.

Western seeks waterfront learning space

March 4, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University hopes to open a community learning center on the Bellingham, Wash., waterfront within the next five years as the Waterfront Master Plan gains traction after a decade of discussion and controversy.

The Port and City of Bellingham recently agreed to develop about 11 acres of the waterfront, said Steve Swan, vice president of university relations and community development at Western.

Bottled water sales to continue until April despite student efforts

February 14, 2014 |
The Western Front
Despite a hard-fought, student-led campaign against disposable water bottle sales on campus, the proposal to end sales will not go into effect until April 1, 2014, Associated Students Vice President for Student Life Robby Eckroth said.

On the student ballot during spring 2012, the student body voted 73 percent in favor of the proposal. Western Administration planned to begin phasing out disposable water bottles in fall 2013, according to a previous Western Front article.

Local sea star populations dwindling

January 14, 2014 |
The Western Front
Sea stars along the West Coast, from Alaska to Southern California, are dying from what scientists call “Sea Star Wasting Syndrome.” Associate Professor of Biology Benjamin Miner is leading a team of researchers at Western Washington University to find out why.

Miner received a one-year research grant of $25,951 from the National Science Foundation to help map the infected areas along the coast and to conduct experiments on the diseased sea stars.

Damming the Skykomish River: a resurfacing battle

January 14, 2014 |
The Western Front
A new hydroelectric dam may be erected in the South Fork of the Skykomish River — one of the last free-flowing rivers in Washington.

Snohomish Public Utilities District (SnoPUD) is planning the installation of a 7-foot-tall inflatable dam that would stretch across the river above Sunset Falls, a 114-foot-tall waterfall that marks the end of natural fish migration up river, said Rich Bowers, northwest coordinator at Hydropower Reform Coalition.

Western science report: Group studies seal population

November 17, 2013 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University professor Alejandro Acevedo and his research students are giving scientists new insights into marine life in Bellingham, Wash.

Acevedo's lab is interested in how harbor seals interact with their environment and how the seals are impacted by humans, as well as the ecology and conservation of their environment.

Western professor, students provide monitoring data for 70 of Washington's small lakes

August 13, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University Professor of Environmental Science Robin Matthews, director of Western's Huxley College of the Environment Institute for Watershed Studies, is working with two student volunteers to provide water-quality monitoring data for 70 Washington lakes as part of the institute's Small Lakes Project.

"We started this project in 2006 as a way of getting student volunteers some top-notch field research experience," Matthews said. "And it has turned out to not only be just that, but also a very valuable community resource as well."

Huxley's Institute for Watershed Studies renews its agreement to monitor Lake Whatcom

July 31, 2013 |
Western Today
Huxley's Institute for Watershed Studies finished its third year of the 2010-2012 Lake Whatcom Monitoring project and received a three-year renewal to provide lake and stream monitoring for 2013-2015.

The new contract includes an expanded emphasis on storm event sampling to help the city of Bellingham model phosphorus and sediment loading into Lake Whatcom.

Campus bans sale of disposable water bottles

July 9, 2013 |
The Western Front
A new campus rule will have Western Washington University students scrambling to stores to purchase canteens and Camelbacks.

Beginning this fall, Western is banning the sale of all disposable water bottles from campus markets and vending machines.

Activist speaks about importance of earth elements

May 7, 2013 |
The Western Front
David Suzuki spoke in the Performing Arts Center about the negative impact of humans on the planet.

Suzuki, internationally recognized environmentalist and activist came to Western May 6 and gave his lecture, "Time is Running Out: Ecology or Economics," to a packed room at the Performing Arts Center. View entire lecture here:

Students in BTC's fisheries program can now seamlessly transfer to WWU

May 2, 2013 |
Western Today
Bellingham Technical College's Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences program has announced an articulation (transfer) agreement with Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment. This partnership will continue BTC and WWU efforts to prepare stewards of the environment and resources.

Students will now have the opportunity for a seamless transition by earning BTC's Associated in Applied Science Transfer degree in Fisheries & Aquatic Science and transferring to WWU/Huxley to pursue a bachelor of arts in Environmental Studies or Geography.

Students push for bottled water ban: Pepsi Co. sales on campus decline

April 30, 2013 |
The Western Front
A student push toward bottled water alternatives may be the reason Pepsi Co., Western's provider of cold beverages, failed to meet its beverage sales quota.

Money from cold beverage sales goes into the Cold Beverage Contract, which funds lectures, scholarships and student facilities.

The loss of income, coming amid student-led rallies to end bottled water sales on campus, has made the contract's committee dip into savings, said John Feodorov, a Fairhaven associate professor and member of the 2011-12 committee.

Green fee funds pilot programs

April 30, 2013 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University's Green Energy Fee Committee announced funding for eight campus projects using the Green Energy Fee Grant Program April 22.

The committee selected the eight proposals based on how well they fit the mission of the Green Energy Fee, said Katie Savinski, chair of the committee and AS vice president for student life.

Ecology Class Works to Remove Dam

March 5, 2013 |
The AS Review
Throughout the Pacific Northwest there is a growing trend for ecological restoration projects. From tree planting to riverbed reconstruction, Whatcom County, Washington State and the Pacific Northwest are helping to lead the charge in a movement to restore environments to their historic and natural state.

Bellingham waterfront cleanup in progress: Crews to start removing mercury contamination from Georgia-Pacific West site

February 26, 2013 |
The Western Front
Bellingham is preparing to remove pockets of mercury contamination from the Bellingham waterfront in March.

The Georgia-Pacific West site, located near downtown on West Laurel Street, a 64-acre stretch of land, is one of 12 cleanup sites in the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot project. This project is an effort by federal, tribal, state and local governments to get rid of contamination and restore the bay's natural habitat, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology's website.

Bellingham, port officials strike back at Pike's waterfront criticisms

February 7, 2013 |
The Bellingham Herald
The city's former mayor said those now in charge of coming up with a redevelopment plan for the waterfront aren't listening to the will of the community. "If you're an elected official, and the public overwhelmingly wants something, you should be responsive to the public," Dan Pike said on Thursday, Feb. 7, at a talk on past and present planning for the waterfront, part of the Huxley College of the Environment Speaker Series. He had an audience of about 200 people, many of them students, on the Western Washington University campus.

Ex-mayor critical of Bellingham waterfront plans

February 6, 2013 |
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM - The city's former mayor is breaking a self-imposed silence to criticize the plans for waterfront redevelopment coming together under Mayor Kelli Linville and Port of Bellingham leadership.

Dan Pike, an alumnus of Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, will give a talk titled "Bellingham's Waterfront: Where We're Going, Where We Should Be Going, and How My Huxley Education Helps Me Understand the Difference," Thursday, Feb. 7, at the university. He promises not to pull any punches.

AS board fights to banish bottles: Western continues selling single-use bottles nearly a year after initiative passes

January 25, 2013 |
The Western Front
The Associated Students Board of Directors and the Students for Sustainable Water club are working to ban single-use water bottles on campus. The Water Bottle Initiative was passed last spring after 73 percent of student voters approved it.

The initiative said Western students find the selling of bottled water to be an unsuitable practice and urged the University to discontinue the sale of bottled water on campus.

Western pool in need of an upgrade

November 30, 2012 |
The Western Front
The pool at Wade King Student Recreation Center could receive an ultraviolet filtration system if stakeholders accept a proposal by Western students.

These pools use ultraviolet light to break apart and destroy the harmful chemicals in a way that standard chlorine cannot, said Western senior Daniel Soloff.

WWU's Shannon Point gets grants to buy new boat, equipment

October 15, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
Western Washington University's Shannon Point Marine Center has received two grants totaling more than $500,000 to buy a new boat and research equipment, according to the university. The center, which supports WWU's marine science academic programs, received a $162,300 grant to buy a new academic vessel, as well as a $346,000 grant to buy laboratory equipment that can analyze the marine environment at the molecular level.

Shannon Point gets $346K to buy mass spectrometer

September 28, 2012 |
Western Today
Scientists at Western Washington University's Shannon Point Marine Center have received a $346,000 grant from the Major Research Instrumentation program of the National Science Foundation to obtain a Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer, an analytical instrument that can be used to identify natural products in the marine environment at the molecular level.

WWU works to ban sales of bottled water on campus

September 23, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM - Students moving into to their dorms at Western Washington University this weekend will have to unpack their sheets, their clothes and their reusable water bottles, as the school is working toward banning bottled water.

Students passed the initiative recommending that university administration ban sales of bottled water on campus with 73 percent approval last April, but there's still no timeline for if and when the ban might go into effect.

City Council debates the mussel problem

May 18, 2012 |
The Western Front
Bellingham City Council and Whatcom County authorities decided against permanently banning boats on Lake Whatcom in a meeting Monday, May 14 — choosing instead to invest in education and boat inspections to keep harmful invasive clams and mussels out of the lake.

Letter to the editor: supporting the Water Bottle Initiative

May 14, 2012 |
The AS Review
Recently there was an initiative in the Associated Students Elections addressing the sale of bottled water on campus. As the results have not yet been released, I am unsure of whether it has passed or not. [Editor's note: The Water Bottle Initiative passed with a 73 percent vote.] However, this letter is to advocate for a ban of selling bottled water on campus.

Bellingham council may close boat launch to stop invasive species into Lake Whatcom

April 25, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
The Bellingham City Council appears willing to consider a shutdown of the Bloedel-Donovan Park boat launch until an inspection and decontamination system can be set up to prevent introduction of zebra and quagga mussels. No such shutdown proposal appeared on the council's Monday, April 23, agenda. But when council members learned that there was no chance to get a boat inspection and decontamination system up and running before the beginning of summer, most wanted to take immediate action.

Water Bottle initiative

April 23, 2012 |
The AS Review
"Should the students of Western Washington University recommend to the administration that all sales of bottled water cease on campus, in order to reduce the university's environmental impact in terms of plastic, water, and fossil fuels?"

The Water Bottle initiative is sponsored by Anna Amundson, Carolyn Bowie and Sara Purington. Our questions were answered by Carlolyn.

Asian clams in local lakes threaten water quality, beaches

April 10, 2012 |
The Western Front
Bivalves are bombarding Bellingham. They kill native mussels, fill Bellingham shores with razor-sharp shells and pollute the drinking water of 85,700 people across Whatcom County. They are the Asian clam, and students may have brought them to local lakes.

Invasive Asian clams have been found in Lake Whatcom, including around Lakewood, Western's water sports facility according to the City of Bellingham. Students who do not properly clean their boats could be part of the problem, said Teagan Ward, environmental resource assistant for the Bellingham Public Works Department.

Letter to the Editor: Says to sign petition to ban plastic water bottles

March 30, 2012 |
The Western Front
This spring there are going to be signature forms going around classrooms, Red Square and the Viking Union to ban bottled water on campus. This ban, put forth by Western's club, Students for Sustainable Water, would wipe out plastic water bottles from all of Western's markets.

Students should sign these forms because they take a solid stance against bottled water. Bottled water is bad for the environment, human health and nonrenewable resources.

Cool 2011 summer helped Lake Whatcom water quality a bit

March 14, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM - Scientific measurements of the biochemistry of Lake Whatcom showed some improvement in 2011, but that is probably the result of a cool summer, not human efforts to control polluting runoff.

So says Robin Matthews, the lead scientist on the annual lake water monitoring effort commissioned by the city. Matthews is director of the Institute for Watershed Studies at Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University.

Lake Whatcom boaters could face inspection to deter mussel invasion

March 9, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
As soon as this summer, watercraft ranging from float planes and motorboats to canoes and kayaks could face mandatory inspections as they launch in Lake Whatcom, as local governments ramp up their efforts to prevent nasty invasive mussels from finding their way into the city's water supply.

Two species of Eurasian mussel are the main concern. They are known as zebra and quagga mussels and are native to the Black and Caspian seas. They are believed to have been introduced to North America by Russian freighters emptying ballast water in the Great Lakes in the 1980s.

What's in your water?

January 30, 2012 |
The AS Review
Everyone drinks it, bathes with it and cooks with it. Even without realizing it, students use water. But how much do people really think about where their water comes from?

In Bellingham, drinking water comes from Lake Whatcom. It seems simple enough, but one group of students knows there are a myriad of complications with the body of water, including storm runoff and erosion of the land around the water, causing high-phosphorus levels in the community's drinking water.

That's why the Associated Students Environmental Center is encouraging Whatcom County to request that the State Board of Natural Resources reconveys state-owned lands back into county control, rather than be managed by a state entity.

Green Energy Fee Program completes first project

January 10, 2012 |
Western Today
With the completion of three water bottle refilling stations -- one on the second floor of Old Main, one on the first floor of Arntzen Hall and one in the Wade King Student Recreation Center -- Western Washington University's Green Energy Fee Grant Program has completed the first of a number of projects initiated by the fledgling program.

Created in 2010, the Green Energy Fee Grant Program puts to use student dollars collected in the quarterly Green Energy Fee and designated to the grant program. This year, that's some $300,000, said Kathryn Freeman, Green Energy Fee Grant Program Coordinator.

WWU custodians to begin cleaning with ionized tap water

July 27, 2011 |
Western Today
Academic Custodial Services at Western Washington University on Aug. 1 will take the next significant step in sustainable green cleaning on campus – using ionized tap water through a new spray bottle device to clean and remove health-affecting bacteria on all cleanable surfaces.

"Using ionized plain water with no chemical additives or cleaning products significantly reduces chemical or cleaning product residues, related odors, reduces costs, and further aligns ACS and Western as leaders in sustainability," said Bill Managan, assistant director of Operations, Facilities Management. He noted that extensive in-house testing verified this cleaning approach, which sanitizes comparably to the green certified chemicals currently in use.

Bellingham council hears scientist's warnings on Lake Whatcom water

June 7, 2011 |
The Bellingham Herald
Although her research has documented a steady deterioration in the quality of Lake Whatcom's water, Robin Matthews still drinks the treated city water that originates in the lake. Matthews, director of the Institute for Watershed Studies at Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University, briefed the City Council on her latest findings Monday, June 6. She told the council that the water is still pure enough for her, and pure enough to meet legal drinking water standards. That could change someday if the long, slow decline in lake water quality is not halted and reversed.

Huxley researchers aid in deconstruction of historic dam

June 3, 2011 |
The Western Front
The Klallam people of the Elwha Valley on the Olympic Peninsula once caught fish in the Elwha River year-round. The river was one of the most productive fish runs in the Pacific Northwest and boasted all five species of Pacific salmon.

But the construction of two massive dams in the early 20th century drastically cut the size of runs, destroying the tribe's major food source and leaving the habitat altered.

1st new hydro dam in Washington in quarter-century

October 19, 2011 |
The Seattle Times
This winter, a little more of the power flowing into Snohomish County homes will be locally grown. The Snohomish County Public Utility District has officially opened its new mini-dam and powerhouse on Youngs Creek south of Sultan.

The $29 million project, south of Sultan, is expected to produce enough electricity on average for about 2,000 homes. The dam, 12 feet tall and 65 feet across, is the first new one in the state in more than a quarter of a century, according to the PUD.

Green fee funds bottle refilling stations

September 30, 2011 |
The Western Front
As the result of a student-led effort to discourage bottled water purchases, three water-bottle refilling stations will be installed on campus this November.

The refilling stations, which will have both a drinking fountain and a small shelf behind it to fill water bottles, will be located at the Wade King Student Recreation Center, on the first floor of Arntzen Hall and on the second floor of Old Main.

The idea for the refilling stations was part of a project by students from an environmental studies class, Campus Sustainability Planning Studio, and was brought to the Green Energy Fee committee as a project proposal called "Think Outside the Bottle." The committee gave the project was $21,000 last spring.

Puget Sound less polluted than expected, study concludes

June 3, 2011 |
The Western Front
Imagine a train loaded with 400 tons of petroleum, 150 tons of zinc, and 70 tons of copper dropping into the Puget Sound. Now, imagine that happening every year.

Under the Sea

April 26, 2011 |
Christopher Wojcik grew up surfing, fishing and diving the waters near Point Pleasant, N.J., a shore town known for its long beaches, arcades and nightlife. His passion for exploring the ocean never let up. In 1998, after getting a master's degree in biological oceanography from Western Washington University, Wojcik returned to New Jersey. There he was asked to help improve the animal habitats at one of his hometown's most popular attractions, Jenkinson's Aquarium. He responded by launching Ionature, a Bay Head, N.J., firm that designs and builds exhibits and habitats for zoos and aquariums.

Latest EHS Report gives advice on keeping stormwater runoff clean

April 6, 2011 |
Western Today
The current issue of EHS Report from Western Washington University's Environmental Health & Safety Office is available online. The spring 2011 issue highlights ways in which the Western community can keep stormwater runoff free of contaminates and introduces emergency management grant employees Holly Woll-Salkeld and Jonah Stinson to the campus community.

Shower timers in dorms aim to conserve water

April 5, 2011 |
The Western Front
When Huxley graduate Leah White takes a shower, not a drop of water is wasted. She gets in, she rinses and she turns off the water. Then, she lathers up and turns the water back on to rinse. White says she takes these "military-style" showers to cut back on water consumption.

As the coordinator of the Residents' Resource Awareness Program, White is working with Eco Reps to install a shower timer program in Higginson dorm. The program would encourage residents to reduce the amount of time they spend in the shower.

Lake Whatcom water quality still slipping, data shows

March 17, 2011 |
The Bellingham Herald
Lake Whatcom water quality took a turn for the worse in 2010, adding new urgency to the ongoing effort to head off new sources of pollution while taking steps to cut back on existing ones. The bad news came in the latest Lake Whatcom Monitoring Program annual report that lists data compiled by Robin Matthews and her team. Matthews is director of the Institute for Watershed Studies at Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University.