In October 2022, the City of Seattle granted $244,000 to seven Duwamish River community projects on as part of the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF). Since 2014, the program has funded organizations to improve the quality of life and sustainability of the neighborhood. The Duwamish River was listed as one of the country’s most toxic hazardous waste sites in 2001; the Lower Duwamish Waterway (LDW) Superfund site is a 5.5-mile long polluted area from South Park to Georgetown and requires a long-term response due to toxic chemicals polluting the river from years of industrialization.
The Emerald blows loudly as the royal trumpet, signaling that there is indeed life abundant. It’s the sound of information, the sound of challenge, the sound of change and — maybe most importantly — the sound of hope. Join me in supporting the Emerald as a recurring donor during their 8th anniversary campaign, Ripples & Sparks at Home, April 20–28. Become a Rainmaker now by choosing the “recurring donor” option on the donation page!
—Marcus Harden, Educator, Author, & Rainmaker
The Duwamish River’s (Dxwdəw) history is as complex as the river and its watershed. Over time, it has changed, much like the land and people around it. Though it was once a vital ecosystem home to the Duwamish people, as the area’s urbanization occurred over the years, the river and its watershed became polluted. Eventually, the pollution caused the Lower Duwamish Waterway to be designated an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site. These sites include “the nation’s most contaminated sites,” which are targeted for investigation and cleanup.
Every year, salmon journey from the open waters of the North Pacific, pass through estuaries along the coast, and swim upriver to spawn in the freshwater streams and creeks in which they were born. Yet across the western coast of North America, coho salmon are dying in large numbers as they return to urban watersheds. In West Seattle, a team of citizen scientists are surveying salmon to understand how many are affected.
Since 2015, small teams of volunteers have gone out every day in the fall to document returning salmon along a quarter mile stretch of Longfellow Creek.
Cars honked and community members chanted while crossing the South Park Bridge on Friday, Sept. 24. They were voicing concerns over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed changes to the cleanup of the Duwamish River. In 2001, the Duwamish River was listed as a federal Superfund site, one of the country’s most toxic hazardous-waste sites.
“We’re asking for this river to get cleaned up the way we agreed to in 2014 … to change things now makes no sense at all,” James Rasmussen, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC) Superfund manager and member of the Duwamish Tribe, said. “That’s why we’re here today. We want to clean this river the best possible way we can.”
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
COVID-19 Vaccination Accessibility & Other Info
Auburn Vaccination Center Now Offering Car-Side Service on Mondays —From PHSKC: On Mondays only, beginning May 10, the Auburn vaccination clinic is offering car-side service for those who cannot easily walk into the clinic. Just let a greeter know upon arrival that car-side service is needed. Find directions to the Auburn location at https://kingcounty.gov/vaccine
Shape Our Water is a community-centered project from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and KVRU 105.7 FM, a hyperlocal low power FM station in South Seattle, to plan the next 50 years of Seattle’s drainage and wastewater systems. Funded by SPU, the project spotlights members of local community-based organizations and asks them to share how water shapes their lives. Our latest conversation is with Maggie Angel-Cano, community engagement and communications specialist for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition.
Growing up in South Park, Maggie Angel-Cano spent years without realizing Seattle’s only river ran through her neighborhood.
“We had no idea there was a river in the community,” she said. “We just, you know, lived our daily life: work, school, back home.”
(This article was originally published by Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
In late January, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a change to the cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish River, one of the nation’s most polluted waterways, which was declared a Superfund site in 2001. The proposal — which would allow for higher levels of certain pollutants to remain in the river sediment — generated frustration amongst community groups in South Seattle, who called for an extension of a public comment period on the change. Public comment now lasts until April 21.
At the center of the EPA’s proposal is a pollutant called benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), a carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (cPAH) that comes from burning coal and oil and is present in the sediment of the Duwamish River.
On Tuesday July 7, the Port of Seattle broke ground on Terminal 117 Park located in South Park along the west bank of the Duwamish River.
With the South Park bridge, moored sailboats, and dozens of Boeing commercial jets as a backdrop, Port Commissioner Ryan Calkins opened the event and stressed the importance of the Port’s relationship with its neighbors, saying, “throughout the cleanup, the Port and the community maintained an open dialogue on design ideas, and we know we have a better outcome as a result of that strong partnership.”
On March 23, the City of Seattle closed the West Seattle Bridge due to rapidly expanding cracks that rendered it unsafe for vehicle traffic.
The bridge will be closed until at least 2021 and may not be repairable according to Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) director Sam Zimbabwe. SDOT is still working to assess the full cost and timeline of needed repairs.
The city-owned bridge is vital to people living on the West Seattle peninsula, serving as the main route of access to the rest of the city, serving about 100,000 vehicles per day.
The main detour routes offered by the city take drivers through the Duwamish Valley, and through the communities of Georgetown, South Park and along West Marginal Way.