About Us - Puget Soundkeeper Alliance

Since 1984, Puget Soundkeeper has…

  • Completed over 1600 patrols of Puget Sound waterways
  • Facilitated development of more than a dozen new or improved water treatment facilities in the Puget Sound region
  • Taken legal action against more than 170 Clean Water Act violators, never losing a case
  • Certified 71 Clean Marinas through the Clean Marina Washington program
  • Created the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund and awarded over $7.4 million in settlement funds to Puget Sound restoration projects
  • Engaged over 18,000 volunteers in cleanups, outreach events and advocacy
  • Removed more than 145,000 pounds of marine debris from Puget Sound waterways
  • Set national precedent for industrial stormwater treatment, green infrastructure and low-impact development regulations

Mission and Vision

Puget Soundkeeper’s mission is to protect and enhance the waters of Puget Sound for the health and restoration of our aquatic ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.

Our vision is for a Puget Sound teeming with diverse marine life and providing safe opportunities for swimming, fishing, recreation and sustainable economic activity. We seek a Sound that supports the lifeways and traditional cultural practices of indigenous peoples; provides all communities with a clean, healthy place to live and work; and once again is home to an abundance of salmon and orca.

We monitor Puget Sound water quality, help set strong policies and regulations that protect our waterways and our health, enforce environmental regulations, engage citizens and businesses in waterway cleanups and recovery projects, educate and involve the public in local water pollution issues, and partner with local and regional groups to advance solutions that protect Puget Sound.

How We Work

Monitoring and Enforcement: Soundkeeper actively patrols the waters of Puget Sound and monitors for pollution. We also enforce the Clean Water Act through legal action.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 grants individuals and communities the power to sue under provisions of the Act to bring egregious polluters into compliance with the law. Soundkeeper has a nearly 100% success record in Clean Water Act cases and has filed over 170 cases. A 1993 settlement with the City of Bremerton is directly attributable to the Dyes Inlet shellfish beds reopening for the first time in 40 years. On average, Soundkeeper’s settlements control over 120 million gallons of stormwater annually. 

To date, Soundkeeper’s enforcement team has awarded over $7.4 million to third party restoration, education and water quality mitigation projects to heal the damage in the affected watershed and provide an incentive for future compliance. Soundkeeper does not receive any settlement money from Clean Water Act cases.

Policy and Civic Engagement: We pursue the Clean Water Act’s goals through active engagement with business, government agencies and Puget Sound communities.

Stewardship and Education: Soundkeeper is committed to stopping pollution at the source. We partner with businesses to help reduce pollution and host cleanup and education events to involve community members in caring for Puget Sound.

Soundkeeper represents our members as we work to protect our shared waters.

Puget Soundkeeper is a 501(c)3  nonprofit organization; IRS tax number 91-1285783.

History

Founded in 1984 as the Puget Sound Alliance (PSA), Soundkeeper was the first grassroots organization to focus exclusively on protecting the marine environment of Puget Sound. Initially, PSA fought successfully for secondary wastewater treatment at West Point in Seattle and a Puget Sound Management Plan. In 1990, following the successful model of the Hudson Riverkeeper in New York, PSA launched the 6th licensed Waterkeeper program in the nation when it hired its first Puget Soundkeeper and began patrolling the waters of the Sound by boat.

Renamed Puget Soundkeeper Alliance (Soundkeeper) in 1992, the organization was a founding member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. Today, Waterkeeper Alliance and its member organizations are the fastest growing environmental movement in the world with over 300 licensed Waterkeepers and affiliates on six continents.

The Waterkeeper Model

Puget Soundkeeper is a founding member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, the largest and fastest growing nonprofit focused solely on clean water. There are over 300 Waterkeeper organizations and affiliates on six continents fighting for communities’ clean water rights. Waterkeepers can be large or small, but every member patrols their waterway and enforces clean water protections when agencies and the federal government fail to do so.

The Waterkeeper movement began on the Hudson River, when a group of fishermen united to protect the river, their livelihood and the health of everyone living nearby. Their success sparked grassroots movements across the country, eventually leading to the seven original members that founded the Waterkeeper Alliance. Soundkeeper is very proud to be a part of the Waterkeeper movement and to support the work of partner organizations across the globe.

Photo: John Wathen