Being good environmental stewards is a priority for the City. Tacoma is a recognized leader in environmental work in the region and beyond. From the Thea Foss Waterway sediment remediation project, to innovative stormwater treatment studies, to habitat restoration and stewardship, Tacoma works to provide a clean and healthy community for our citizens. The City, in partnership with regulatory agencies, environmental organizations, property owners and other responsible parties, worked to clean up and restore marine sediments and shoreline habitats in these waterways and throughout Commencement Bay.
The Thea Foss and Wheeler-Osgood waterways sparkle with new life today, thanks to a historic cleanup led by the City of Tacoma. Contaminated sediments were removed and surfaces capped with clean materials to make the habitat cleaner for the waterways inhabitants. This $105 million construction project was completed in 2006 and the City is now monitoring the sediments to make sure that they stay clean.
In 1997, the City of Tacoma entered into a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Consent Decree with the Commencement Bay Natural Resource Trustees that called for the restoration of 5 areas located on the shoreline of Commencement Bay and near Swan Creek. Four of the sites were constructed by the City and active monitoring requirements for these four NRDA sites have been met. The City now watches over the sites under the Environmental Stewardship Project described below. The fifth NRDA project has been constructed and continues to be monitored through an agreement with the Port of Tacoma.
Since the 1990’s, numerous habitat areas have been constructed by the City and others in the Puyallup River Watershed. To ensure that these restored habitat areas remain healthy and functional, the City entered into an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 to provide stewardship for these sites. This Environmental Stewardship Project (ESP) was undertaken in connection with the settlement of an enforcement action taken by the EPA for violations of CERCLA (commonly known as Superfund) that occurred during the multi-year Thea Foss remediation project. The City’s stewardship of these sites is temporary and will ultimately be cared for by volunteers and others under the oversight of the Commencement Bay Natural Resource Trustees.
The Washington State Department of Ecology administers the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) program. The WCC program was established in 1983 to conserve, rehabilitate, and enhance the state’s natural and environmental resources while providing educational opportunities and meaningful work experiences for young adults (ages 18 to 25). The City of Tacoma has sponsored a crew for more than 10 years and the crew has been involved in activities around Tacoma including:
Commencement Bay Natural Resource Trustees: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Washington State Department of Ecology, Natural Resources, and Fish and Wildlife; the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.
- Invasive vegetation removal and treatment
- Native vegetation planting
- Restoration site maintenance
- Erosion Control
- Debris removal
- Water quality testing