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Recommendation: 44

Status: Underway

Increase Washington’s ability to understand, reduce, remediate, and adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification.


Action 1

Reduce land-based contributions to ocean acidification from such sources as wastewater treatment facilities and septic systems.

Action 2

Reduce carbon dioxide emissions quickly and aggressively. (See Recommendation 3).

Action 3

Implement measures to adapt to, and remediate the impact of, ocean acidification.

Action 4

Continue to invest in Washington’s ability to monitor ocean acidification and its effects.

Action 5

Educate and engage people in addressing ocean acidification and maintain a sustainable and coordinated focus.

Implementation Details

Washington was an early leader addressing ocean acidification and, in 2012, became the first state to develop a comprehensive plan for tackling ocean acidification through the Marine Resources Advisory Council.

Since its inception, the council has provided a sustainable and coordinated focus on implementing the actions in the state’s plan and updated it in 2017.

The Governor’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force supports continued implementation of actions in the state’s Ocean Acidification Action Plan and the council’s recommended priorities, including the following:

Reducing Local Carbon Dioxide Emissions More Aggressively

Current projections indicate sharp declines in pH in Puget Sound during the next 30 years if we do not reverse course. Our local emissions contribute to local acidification and therefore must be part of the solutions advanced.

Accelerating Actions that Reduce Human Sources of Nutrients

Local human sources of nutrients are contributing significantly to ocean acidification, causing low dissolved oxygen levels and threatening marine life, particularly in parts of Puget Sound. Nutrients come from many sources, including wastewater treatment facilities, so reducing these discharges into Puget Sound is a priority.

Management and policy actions that reduce nutrients from wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, and other land-based sources will improve marine water quality for marine species. The Washington Department of Ecology’s Puget Sound Nutrient Reduction Project is evaluating and advancing such actions, including developing a general permit for wastewater treatment plants.

Improving Resiliency of the Ecosystem

Protect and enhance kelp and eelgrass, which may reduce acidification locally and provide areas of refuge for marine species.

Continuing Investments in Science and Collaboration

Continue investments in science and collaboration that underpin our actions and provide a sustainable and coordinated focus for our state to address and lead on this issue.

Updating Communications Materials and Conducting Strategic Outreach

Update communications materials and conducting strategic outreach to increase understanding and connect with key audiences.

Recent Progress

The Legislature awarded funding to the Department of Ecology to implement the Governor’s Executive Order 12-07, Washington’s response to ocean acidification. The department is investing in science and working in partnership with scientists, policymakers, and industry experts to prepare Washington for ocean acidification and other adverse effects from a changing climate. It also is involved in a modeling study to understand more about the processes and relative influences of acidification locally. These modeling tools will help guide management actions into the future.

More details may be found in the progress reports in the resources library.