The Northwest Power and Conservation Council
unanimously approved a pilot demonstration map for Polycyclic Aromatic
Hydrocarbons (PAHs), a toxic contaminant that impacts aquatic organisms and
stream food webs, and could limit habitat restoration projects.
PAHs are just one of hundreds of toxic
contaminants found in Northwest streams and the toxin chosen by a regional
toxic contaminants workgroup to test out a story mapping concept that could
include other contaminants in the future. The workgroup wants to raise
awareness of toxic contaminant impacts on Columbia River basin fish and
wildlife. PAHs have a known impact on salmon and are ubiquitous in the region.
The mapping project, a pilot effort, shows how
mapping of other toxic contaminants could be done, and could provide education
on toxic contaminant issues across a broad spectrum of audiences. See a Jan. 3,
2017 Council staff memorandum at https://www.nwcouncil.org/media/7491481/5.pdf. The story map targets a lay audience.
Although the Council paid for the pilot PAH
story map, costing $22,700, others will need to pay for further work on the
project, according to Leslie Bach of the Council’s Fish and Wildlife staff, who
demonstrated how the map will work at this week’s Council meeting in Portland,
“This is a demonstration of a concept and we
don’t plan on doing anything more with it or spend more money,” said Council
Fish and Wildlife director Tony Grover. “It’s also an emerging priority in the
Fish and Wildlife Program that was approved by all of you.
“Our expectation is that it will serve as a
demonstration of what you can do” with mapping toxins. “Our request is to get
the Council’s green light to put the map up on our website.”
“We need to be careful,” said Bill Booth,
Idaho Council member. “This is not entirely our expertise and if using
ratepayer dollars we need to provide a nexus (connection) to fish and wildlife.”
He added that with the Council’s name on the
mapping product, it also needs to be fully and scientifically vetted.
Although he approved the story map at this
week’s Council meeting, at the August 2017 Council meeting where up to $30,000
was approved to move ahead on the map’s development, Booth had said that he
didn’t believe “the Act (NW Power Act) envisioned ratepayers would pay for
enforcing statutes. Clearly this is the job of other agencies. The EPA has a
big budget and they could afford this $30,000.”
Booth at this week’s meeting voted in favor of
adding the story map to the Council website.
Council’s Fish and Wildlife staff have been
hosting the toxic contaminants workgroup that also includes NOAA Fisheries, the
Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Washington Department of
Ecology, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Lower Columbia Estuary
Project, The Upper Columbia United Tribes, Yakama Nation, U.S. Geological
Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency.
While completing the PAH story map, the
workgroup compiled readily available data on PAHs in the Basin and organized
the data into a standard template.
“The data have been incorporated into a story
map that includes information on the effects of PAHs on native fish and wildlife,
the potential sources of PAHs, and opportunities for reducing PAHs and their
effects. The map provides a template and example for mapping and displaying
data and information on other toxic contaminants that affect fish and wildlife
in the Columbia River Basin,” the memo says.
The pilot map is similar to maps already
developed by the Council, including maps for artificial production operation
and maintenance (https://www.nwcouncil.org/ext/maps/APPrograms/) and maps for fish screens (https://www.nwcouncil.org/ext/maps/FSPrograms/).
Bach will make several small changes to the
PAH story map before putting it up on the Council website (www.nwcouncil.org).
--CBB, August 25, 2017, “Council Approves
Pilot Toxic Contaminant Mapping Project For Columbia River Basin,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439474.aspx
--CBB, December 16, 2016, “‘Columbia River
Basin Restoration Act’ Passes Congress, Aims To Reduce Toxic Contaminants,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438090.aspx
--CBB, November 4, 2016, “Columbia Estuary
Program Tracking, Mapping Marine Debris; Nets, Boats, Tires, Drums, Plastics,