Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group Programs
Education and Outreach
Outreach and education to provide multi-lingual information to the public about Duwamish River pollution, health and cleanup issues, including educational presentations to community, youth, business, church, academic, and other organizations; educational boat, kayak and walking tours of the river; Community Fact Sheets with clear and easy-to-understand information about cleanup studies and plans; monthly E-Newsletters; and a web site and Facebook page to provide up-to-date and timely information about cleanup events, activities and developments that affect the river's stakeholders and impacted communities.
We actively involve the community in cleanup decisions affecting the river and its surrounding neighborhoods, including designing and organizing multi-lingual and culturally relevant public meetings accessible to all impacted communities; coordinating community responses to proposed cleanup plans and actions; and providing the community with direct access to technical and policy experts, data and information. In 2013, we organized the community to submit more than 2,300 comments in 10 languages on EPA's proposed cleanup plan for the Duwamish River, demonstrating overwhelming public support for an environmentally strong and health-protective river cleanup. As EPA's designated Community Advisory Group, we have negotiated an Enhanced Public Participation agreement with EPA and the Department of Ecology, giving the community unprecedented access to the decision-making process. DRCC/TAG also secures state Public Participation Grants for the cleanup site, in order to provide public involvement education and programming; food, child care, language interpretation, and transportation for public meetings; and community-based, hands-on engagement activities, such as the annual Duwamish River Festival and Duwamish Alive! volunteer habitat restoration events.
DRCC/TAG represents the interests of the community on issues related to the river cleanup, environmental health and justice, and public access to information. In 2008–09, DRCC/TAG worked with the community to develop a comprehensive "Duwamish Vision," articulating the diverse river stakeholders' vision for the future of the Duwamish Valley. The Vision outlines the public's hopes, dreams, fears and concerns as the complex cleanup progresses and includes calls for improvements to affordable housing, transportation, habitat, family-wage jobs, and community amenities. The Vision continues to aid DRCC/TAG in ensuring that the cleanup will be a vehicle and catalyst for building healthy, sustainable, and equitable river communities. In 2012–13, DRCC/TAG completed a report on the health status of the river's neighborhoods, and partnered with the UW School of Public Health to conduct a Health Impact Assessment of EPA's proposed cleanup plan, resulting in recommendations to promote health equity for the river's local residents, Tribes, fishing families, and workers.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
DRCC/TAG has improved cleanup actions on the river by (1) substantially increasing the size and scope of the first Early Action cleanup, and preventing disposal of its contaminated sediments into Puget Sound; (2) incorporating habitat restoration and public access into the second Early Action cleanup; and (3) upgrading the third Early Action cleanup plan to meet unrestricted land-use and residential health standards, expanding the size of the cleanup to eliminate risks in the affected neighborhood, and creating salmon habitat and public access at an abandoned industrial site. In 2013, we provided technical assistance and public involvement services to the community during EPA's public comment period on the proposed riverside cleanup plan, resulting in over 2,300 comments in 10 languages demonstrating overwhelming public support for a stronger, more comprehensive and health-protective river cleanup. Several of our outreach tools and products have been recognized for their excellence: The Duwamish River Vision received the national Clearwater Award and our interpretive Green Duwamish Watershed Map received the Outstanding Exhibit award from the Association of King County Historical Organizations; in addition, DRCC/TAG's founding director was awarded King County's prestigious Green Globe Award for Environmental Activism.
In 2014, DRCC/TAG is ramping up our "River For All" campaign to secure support from EPA and our local elected officials for an environmentally sound and health protective river cleanup, and to engage the greater Seattle area in talking action to protect Seattle's only river. EPA's final cleanup decision is expected by the end of 2014.