The American Public Health Association (APHA) approved a resolution written by six UW public-health graduate students calling for a thorough approach to protecting coastal water quality last month.
The resolution, which recommends modernizing and enforcing the Clean Water Act originally passed by Congress in 1972, was the culminating assignment for the students as part of their master of public-health training program.
Peter Blackburn, a UW graduate student who helped construct the resolution, said looking at the local Duwamish River pollution inspired them to take a wider look at water pollution policy.
“As a community with a lot of stormwater and urban water pollution problems, given the high volume of stormwater in the Seattle area, it’s really an issue that’s fairly vital to the Puget Sound region,” Blackburn said. “I think that raised our consciousness about the broader impact on watershed nationally because it is such a huge problem in Seattle.”
In particular, the resolution addresses newer sources of direct and indirect pollution, with an emphasis on strengthening the capacity of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement water quality rules. Blackburn said enforcement of the Clean Water Act has become lax, and that the list of regulatable pollutants the EPA currently uses is outdated.