RE Sources’ North Sound Baykeeper Team is charged with protecting and restoring the marine and nearshore habitats of the northern Puget Sound region. We take a collaborative approach, working in coalition with other organizations, interacting and partnering with agency staff and decision makers, offering technical assistance trainings for businesses, and encouraging public involvement and stewardship through educational events and volunteer programs.

The North Sound Baykeeper is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, uniting more than 220 Waterkeeper organizations around the world and focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeeper organizations are on the frontlines of the global water crisis patrolling and protecting more than 1.5 million square miles of waterways on six continents.  Find out more about the Waterkeeper Alliance  here.

Fish Consumption Rule - keep fish free of toxics

Washington state is under a lot of pressure from EPA and by legal challenge to acknowledge that people eat a lot of fish, on average. Once the state formally recognizes this fact, it will need to better protect people from pollutants that accumulate in fish tissue. This happens by reducing the amount of pollutants dumped into our waters.  Many industries are pressuring the government to NOT make the standards more protective because this can be costly.

In April, local and state organizations wrote a letter to Governor Inslee requesting support for protective, accurate water quality standards. Read the letter here.  Also in April, the Lummi Nation wrote a letter to Governor Inslee  explalining that Lummi Nation has a treaty right to harvest salmon and shellfish in a manner sufficient to support our Schelangen  ("Way of Life").  Read the letter here.

Read Waterkeeper Washington's fact sheet here.

In Washington, the fish-consumption rate is set by the Department of Ecology.  The rate estimates how much fish each person eats on a daily basis.  Ecology uses this amount to determine the amount of pollution that can be released into our water.  Washington's current standard is 6.5 grams a day, which is among the lowest in the country. This is not realistic, especially for subsistence fishermen, pregnant mothers, and others who eat more fish as part of their regular diet.

Washington State has the WEAKEST standards to prevent cancer-causing pollutants from entering our state's rivers and Puget Sound.  Because of the weak standard, people who eat high amounts of fish and shellfish are not protected because too much toxic pollution is allowed into Washington's waters.  We want clean, healthy water.  Sediments should be free from toxics and heavy metals.  Our government agencies should set safe standards and enforce the laws that protect our environment and our food supply.

We are working with other Waterkeeper organizations request changes on the proposed rule.  Support our efforts by writing a letter to Governon Inslee.  Contact him at PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504, or call (360) 902 4111.  Ask him to make disease prevention and safe fish and shellfish a priority in our state.  Questions?  Contact Wendy Steffensen at, or (360) 733 8307.

Read Matt Krogh's Op-Ed to Bellingham Herald here.
Read letters from local groups, including the tribes, here.
Read more about this topic here.

Puget Sound and Bellingham Bay Sediment:  Wide-Scale Declines in Benthic Community Health:  A presentation by Valerie Partridge

Did you know that the Department of Ecology has been sampling sediment quality in urban bays of Puget Sound since 1997?  Puget Sound is pretty clean (when compared to New York Harbor and the Gulf) but there are marked declines in the benthic community.  If you missed Valerie's presentation at the Bellingham Library, you can view it here.  Valerie is one of the lead authors of a recent scientific study about sediment quality in urban bays of Puget Sound, explains her findings in this presentation.  She is a member of the Department of Ecology's Marine Sediment Monitoring Team.

Pollution Prevention

The Baykeeper team works to stop pollution at its source by reducing pollution flowing from agricultural, construction, and industrial sites. We also try to stop rainwater from transporting pollutants from roads, lawns, buildings, and farms into streams, rivers, and bays (polluted runoff is also called stormwater). 

Stormwater is widely recognized as the greatest pollution threat to Puget Sound. Because it is dispersed and pervasive, stormwater pollution is particularly difficult to curtail. RE Sources has focused the majority of our pollution prevention work on stormwater pollution. We approach this issue from several fronts.

The Department of Ecology is requesting public comment on a draft petition to create a No Discharge Zone in Puget Sound.  The draft petition is being sent to EPA for their input.  Comments are due by April 21, 2014.  Find out more about it here.  View Ecology's informational slide show about the No Discharge Zone here.

Derelict nets, oil and gas sheens, plastic debris, and over-water maintenance activities are best found while out on the water. Boaters--paddle, power, or sail--are in the best position to discover and report pollution issues. Find out how you can identify pollution problems and what to do about them.

Policy Work

The Baykeeper is actively engaged in the development of policies and regulations affecting stormwater issues. These include commenting on the development of discharge permits and engaging in technical working groups that focus on the development of county based policies, such as critical areas ordinances focusing on livestock waste and construction practices.

Field Investigation and Enforcement

Between the hundreds of construction sites and industrial facilities in Whatcom and Skagit counties and the government agencies who rely almost entirely on quarterly reports submitted by the facilities, RE Sources’ Pollution Prevention Specialist closes the gap by visiting area industrial, construction, and agricultural sites and reporting concerns to the appropriate agencies.

Sediment Cleanups

RE Sources is engaged in all of the major cleanup processes in Whatcom and Skagit counties, including the Bellingham Bay cleanups, participating in the planning process, focusing on habitat development and commenting on cleanup documents.

Marine Debris

The state is announcing a new toll-free reporting and information line for citizens who spot marine debris on Washington beaches. Beachgoers are encouraged to call 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) to report marine debris.

People who call 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) can:
  • Report oil and hazardous items to the National Response Center and Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) by pressing "1."
  • Report large floating debris items that might pose a boating or navigation hazard by pressing "2."
  • Get instructions for reporting debris that is not large or hazardous.
You're also encouraged to remove and dispose of small debris items such as Styrofoam, plastic bottles or small appliances. If an item appears to have sentimental value to those who owned it, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requests that you move the item to a safe place and email the information to

Coastal beaches are experiencing an increase in marine debris, likely resulting from the March 11, 2011, tsunami that devastated Japan, claiming nearly 16,000 lives. According to NOAA, a portion of the tsunami debris that washed into the Pacific Ocean has been arriving on U.S. and Canadian shores, including Washington. NOAA predicts tsunami debris will show up on our shores intermittently during the next several years. However, it is unknown where and what types of debris might arrive.

NOAA encourages beachgoers and boaters, if possible, to take photos of marine debris suspected to be from the Japanese tsunami, to note the location, and to email the information to

Pollution Permits

Businesses that have the potential to pollute are required to have permits to protect human health and wildlife, and to comply with federal law.  RE Sources engages citizens, volunteers, activists, and students in becoming educated and engaged in the permitting process for polluting businesses. Click here to learn more about industrial pollution and  Pollution Permits.

Public Education and Constituency Building

RE Sources has deep roots in public education—we believe that we cannot solve our environmental problems without an educated citizenry that is willing to not only embrace lifestyle change, but also advocate on behalf of the environment. Our public involvement includes the Beach Naturalist program, articles and e-newsletters.


Wendy Steffensen, North Sound Baykeeper

Lee First, Pollution Prevention Specialist

Matt Petryni, Campaign Organizer

Baykeeper Interns