“Restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters…”

The 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) proposed to control pollution at its source, protecting and restoring our nation’s interconnected waters. It aimed to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into our waters by 1985. As it was intended, the CWA was visionary in its scope and goal. Yet 50 years later, it remains unrealized.

Puget Sound is at risk without clean water protection

Our region is home to 4.2 million people, or 70% of Washington’s population, alongside collapsing orca populations and shrinking salmon runs. Increasing vessel traffic and aging infrastructure burden our waterways. Ten thousand rivers and streams drain 42,800 square kilometers of watershed into the Puget Sound, across more than 2,500 miles of waterfront.

Resilient, healthy ecosystems and communities cannot flourish in any corner of our enormous watershed without clean water monitoring and enforcement undergirded by a strong federal Clean Water Act.  

Table showing Puget Soundkeeper's suggestions for fully implementing the Clean Water Act

Puget Soundkeeper and the Clean Water Act

Puget Soundkeeper enforces the Clean Water Act through lawsuits against the most egregious violators. We scrutinize clean water pollution permits, monitor facilities across Puget Sound for CWA compliance, and take polluters and government agencies to court to enforce the law.   

Our goal is to achieve negotiated settlements that bring polluters into compliance with the law and their respective clean water permits. Our enforcement actions can drive huge gains in habitat protection and restoration around the Sound. 

We’re proud to partner with the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment to distribute settlement money from our legal victories. Together, we’ve directed $10 million in payments to community clean water projects since 1986. Our enforcement actions stop pollution at its source, cleaning an average of 124 million gallons of industrial stormwater each year.

Soundkeeper enforces the CWA through pollution discharge permits and community lawsuit provisions by:

  • Challenging clean water pollution permits to ensure the CWA’s goals are met
  • Monitoring facilities across the Puget Sound for CWA compliance
  • Taking polluters and government agencies to court to enforce the law using the CWA’s unique structure that allows for federal public interest lawsuits

We can’t wait 50 more years for clean water

Want to get involved but not sure where to start? Puget Soundkeeper works through litigation, advocacy, and stewardship, with opportunities for everyone!

Outline of a water drop with the Parker
  • Become a member. Our membership structure gives us the ability to bring a case under the CWA’s community lawsuit provision, by showing that our community uses Puget Sound waterways.
  • Fill out our volunteer interest form. Want to get on our radar but not ready to jump in? Have a particular skill set that you want to share? The volunteer form helps us keep track of our supporters’ many diverse talents.
  • Join our Ambassador Program. Conversely, are you ready to make things official with Puget Soundkeeper? Our Ambassador Program is for volunteers looking to grow as community leaders.
Outline of a water drop with marine debris
  • Join a walking or kayaking cleanup. Have fun, build community, and positively impact your local waterways!
  • Register for advocacy training. Our Advocacy 101 series will empower you with tools to maximize public testimony, understand Washington’s legislative process, and confidently engage your elected officials.
  • Spread the word. Did you know Soundkeeper recently launched a brand new Clean Water Program? We’re building local power for stormwater solutions that benefit people and salmon. Learn more and take action.
  • Just here for the sustainable seafood? We have an option for that, too. RSVP to our Salute to the Sound gala reception for live music, signature cocktails, and fresh Hama Hama Oyster Company oysters.