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SHELLFISH PROTECTION LEGISLATION APPROVED

 SHELLFISH PROTECTION LEGISLATION APPROVED
 OLYMPIA, Wash., March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released


today by the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority:
 The Washington State legislature today approved legislation to protect shellfish from the effects of pollution.
 Prime sponsors of the legislation -- Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6132, originally introduced by the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority -- were Senator Jack Metcalf (R-Langley) and representative Tim Sheldon (D-Hoodsport).
 "Shellfish are a key indicator of the health of Puget Sound, and a vital resource to the state's economy," said Nancy McKay, executive director of the authority.
 "This legislation creates a way to protect shellfish and ultimately aid an industry that has been plagued by pollution," McKay explained.
 Washington State is now the nation's leader in oyster production, but that position is threatened by increasing water pollution. Forty percent of Puget Sound's commercial shellfish acreage is now closed or restricted, while 57 of the 146 recreational beds that the state monitors in Puget Sound are restricted to harvest.
 The primary cause of shellfish bed closures over the past decade has been nonpoint source pollution: failing septic systems, animal waste, stormwater runoff and boat waste.
 The legislation allows counties with shellfish tidelands to fund practical programs to control nonpoint source pollution by establishing shellfish protection districts. These counties will be able to create districts to finance shellfish protection programs through county tax revenues, inspection fees for services performed, grants, or rates -- as specified in each county's protection program.
 Funds from these sources could be allocated to help landowners draw up plans to improve management of animal waste or to inspect septic systems to ensure proper maintenance, repair of failing systems or other measures to reduce nonpoint pollution.
 The legislation requires that shellfish protection districts be created in areas where shellfish beds are closed or downgraded after the effective date of this bill.
 In addition, this bill provides counties that form shellfish protection districts high priority for state water quality grants and loans.
 To reduce boat waste, the bill also recommends that the State Parks and Recreation Commission give preference to portable pumpout facilities when installing new pumpout systems, as portable systems are less expensive and have received wider use than stationary pumpouts.
 If signed by the Governor, the bill will become law 90 days after the last day of this legislative session.
 The Washington State legislature created the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority in 1985. The purpose of the authority is to prepare, adopt and oversee the implementation of a comprehensive, coordinated plan to clean up and protect Puget Sound. Members of the authority and its executive director are appointed by the Governor.
 -0- 3/4/92
 NOTE TO EDITORS: A summary of the legislation is available by calling Gretchen Hanna.
 /CONTACT: Gretchen Hanna of Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, 206-493-9171/ CO: Puget Sound Water Quality Authority ST: Washington IN: SU: LEG


DG -- SE012 -- 5200 03/04/92 19:33 EST
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Date:Mar 4, 1992
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