Video: Rainstorm runoff, underwater; plus, a clean-water chat

October 17, 2012 at 8:09 am | In Environment, Seen at sea, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

That 3-minute time-lapse video is shared by West Seattle environmental advocate Laura “Diver Laura” James, to tell the story of last Sunday’s rainstorm from underwater – the outfall off Alki where some of West Seattle’s runoff goes. (Be sure to watch at least the first half.) Want to make it less dramatic next time? The campaign against the Tox-Ick Monster will show you how. And you can discuss clean water – Puget Sound and beyond – with Laura and other Northwest advocates, journalists, and experts, in a live online chat at 11 this morning, presented by EarthFixhere’s the link.

14 Comments

  1. This is both disturbing AND awesome that Diver Laura was able to share this dramatic evidence of what many of us think we understand. Yes, some of it is dirt and dust from a long dry summer but much of that cloud also contains things we would never purposely pour into our water. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound and being more conscious and careful we can all do a much better job of keeping the wrong things from getting into our waters, and in turn, keep them clean, clear, and healthy! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Comment by JeriO — 8:44 am October 17, 2012 #

  2. It’s important to remember what’s in that dirt and dust. Dog poop, fertilizer, and cigarettes being among the most prevalent I’m sure.

    Gross.

    Comment by Chris — 9:32 am October 17, 2012 #

  3. We’re beginning to look like Victoria here.

    Comment by chris — 10:18 am October 17, 2012 #

  4. Thank you thank you thank you! Every fall/winter we are warned about storm water runoff but without something to quantify it, it’s hard to understand what’s really happening. One 3-minute video was incredibly more powerful than all of the years of warnings for me. That goes for the underwater litter as well. Laura and her friends have done more to bring understanding of what is happening under the surface in the last couple of years than I have gleaned in the 30+ years spent in WS.

    Comment by CJ — 10:51 am October 17, 2012 #

  5. Thanks Laura.
    .
    Everyone should watch this to see what gets dumped in the water right in our backyard. Please stop flicking butts in the street and pick up your pet’s poo! Consider green ways to fertilize, etc.

    Comment by WSratsinacage — 12:12 pm October 17, 2012 #

  6. There is a debris trail out from the Fairmont Creek outfall that has a swath of cigarette butts that stretches out down to deeper than 100′ and is easily 50 feet wide or more in places.

    we were out diving to shoot that time-lapse on sunday and the planting strip along Alki Beach as littered with HUGE dog poo piles. I ended up just picking it up because that is where we were setting up our kit and walking across, and i knew as soon as it started to rain, we would be diving in that very poop if i didn’t.

    There were easily 5 big piles from a large dog that poops in the same place every time (repeat offender?) and multiple smaller piles. The pet waste problem is out of control.

    Comment by DiverLaura — 12:46 pm October 17, 2012 #

  7. In my field, the first significant rainfall after summer/fall is called “First Flush” which is accurate, descriptive, and disturbing.

    Comment by JayDee — 12:51 pm October 17, 2012 #

  8. It’s beyond me why there are a lot of folks who seem to think it’s socially acceptable to throw cigarette butts out the window, on the ground, in the water, etc. How is this different than simply throwing a piece of garbage out the window? Yet I see people doing just that fairly often. Infuriating! My biggest concern, however, is how to minimize oil runoff into the Sound… living on the Spokane hill above Alki makes that reality all too apparent.

    Comment by Trevor — 1:32 pm October 17, 2012 #

  9. DiverLaura – Thank you for this video and the work that you do! I would love to have a still image of the cigarette butt swath you mentioned, just to show to people who think nothing of throwing their butts in the street. I’d LIKE to think that most people haven’t made the connection between street litter and surface water runoff and that a visual would make them think twice. You’re helping us do that so thanks again!

    Comment by highlandpark — 1:38 pm October 17, 2012 #

  10. Highland, I will get you a still in the next week or so, will that be ok timeframe? They are sometimes hard to ‘see’ because its the cellulose filter, but I’ll see if i can get a good clear image.

    Comment by DiverLaura — 1:42 pm October 17, 2012 #

  11. DiverLaura, yes! ANY timeframe is OK! Thank you!

    Comment by highlandpark — 1:45 pm October 17, 2012 #

  12. These are great public outreach images! However, first and foremost it’s important to note that the diver herself is begin exposed to a number of chemicals in making the video. Let’s not forget to protect ourselves properly–for more about contaminated water diving, see: http://www.facebook.com/EPADivers

    Comment by Sean Sheldrake — 12:30 pm October 18, 2012 #

  13. Just curious, was there any indication on the surface of this “cloud” of stuff or does it disperse/settle before being visible? How deep is the outfall?

    Comment by Bob H — 1:04 pm October 18, 2012 #

  14. Hi Bob,

    You can see the surface “boiling” when there is storm water flowing. This is quite evident at the some of the larger oufalls (one south of Mee-kwa-mooks), one directly off Alki Beach, one right next to the seawall by the overlook just north of Don Armini Boat launch, and then the smaller outfall of “cove 1″ (next to Salty’s on alki) that is the Fairmount Creek outfall which can get noticeable larger during a heavy ran storm. You can also see some along the Seattle downtown water front, one that comes to mind off hand is out from Myrtle Edwards Park next to pier 70.

    If you are driving (or walking) along the waterfront look for kind of a flat patch of water if there is a bit of wind chop, or area of boiling if its calm. Often times there will be a raft of seabirds congregated over the water that is flowing up (it rises because fresh water is ‘lighter’ than salt water) as they are looking for food in the floaty bits that come out of the pipe (berries, leaves, plastics, etc…)

    Comment by DiverLaura — 2:25 pm October 22, 2012 #

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