Commencement Bay, including Thea Foss Waterway was deemed one of the most polluted sites in the nation in 1983. In the early 1990s a bold step was taken by the City of Tacoma leaders when they decided to take a principal role in the cleanup process and reclaim the heart of the city. Under a plan accepted by the EPA, the City cleaned up 80 percent of the Foss, while a group of private companies cleaned up the other 20 percent. In 2006, the City, its partners and the citizens of Tacoma completed a $105 million dollar cleanup of the Thea Foss Waterway. As of 2016, it has been ten years since the City completed this historically significant cleanup effort on the Thea Foss Waterway. Thanks to this effort, today we can live, work, paddle and play on a clean waterway.
To protect this important investment in our community, the City is working hard on a number of ways to ensure it stays clean. Under a plan with EPA, several different types of monitoring is ongoing, from sediment chemistry sampling, to underwater surveys, and monitoring the health of the sea life.
Further protecting this important resource, the City has developed a nationally recognized stormwater quality program that has dramatically reduced the level of contaminates entering the waterway. The find out more about this cleanup effort, visit the Thea Foss Waterway Cleanup webpage.
Polluted stormwater goes untreated directly into our waterways. All the choices we make every day have an impact; from how often we drive our cars to using chemicals on our lawns, it’s important to think about what’s going down the drain and directly into our waterways and the Puget Sound.
Together, We Can All Help Keep Our Waterways Clean
As environmental stewards, the City traces contaminants coming into the waterway and helps to eliminate these pollutants. Residents can also help keep waterways clean by remembering that only rain goes down the drain. To find out more, visit the Prevent Water Pollution page.
Learn more about Surface Water Management including utility operations, how to prevent and report pollution and other resources, visit the Surface Water page.