The bipartisan American Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 passed today, October 10, 2018 by the U.S. Senate includes provisions secured by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to increase funding for critical Puget Sound habitat conservation and restoration efforts.
The bill increases the funding for the Puget Sound Adjacent Waters Restoration Program from $40 million to $60 million. It also doubles the funding individual projects can receive, to $10 million. The program has already helped restore juvenile salmon habitat and funded efforts to improve shore access and recreational opportunities throughout the region. Completed projects that have received funding include Seahurst Park Seawall Removal and Beach Restoration and Qwuloolt Estuary Ecosystem Restoration.
“For the last 18 years, the Puget Sound Adjacent Waters Restoration Program has focused on protecting and restoring habitats within the Puget Sound basin,” Senator Cantwell said. “We are… providing cleaner habitat for salmon, for threatened juvenile salmon and opportunities in areas like Spencer Island and the Snohomish River estuary near Everett, Washington.”
Puget Sound is the second largest estuary in the United States and is home to thousands of species of animals, including the world’s largest octopus, various kinds of shellfish, several species of salmon, and Southern resident killer whales. Over a dozen of these species are listed as federally endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The Sound is also an economic driver for Washington state. It supports more than $30 billion of economic activity each year, including Washington state’s booming outdoor recreation and tourism industries, which support more than 170,000 jobs in the state.
Senator Cantwell has long fought for funding for Puget Sound restoration and clean-up efforts. When the Trump Administration’s budget proposed eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Puget Sound clean-up funding, Cantwell successfully fought back. In the bipartisan budget deal earlier this year, she helped secure $28 million in the EPA’s budget for Puget Sound clean-up. In December 2017, she also worked with other members of the Washington congressional delegation to secure $25.2 million in federal grants for state, local, and tribal Puget Sound recovery and conservation efforts.
More information about the legislation passed today by the Senate is available here.