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Stormwater will take center stage at 12th annual environmental conference

With 53 miles of shoreline, Bainbridge Island has a unique relationship with the Puget Sound it is nestled within.

This relationship will be the theme of the 12th Annual Bainbridge Island Environmental Conference, “Downstream: Surprising Connections Between your Life and the Marine Life of Puget Sound.”

The event is co-sponsored by the Bainbridge Island Land Trust and the Association of Bainbridge Communities.

From 1 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23 at IslandWood, islanders can get insight on a critical topic for a place like Bainbridge.

There will be a reception following the conference from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. as well as an optional dinner from 6:15 to 7 p.m.

Martha Kongsgaard, chair of the leadership council for the Puget Sound Partnership will kick things off with her keynote presentation “What It’s Going to Take to Get the Job Done.” Kongsgaard will talk about the Puget Sound Partnership and discuss priorities for cleaning and restoring Puget Sound.

Jennifer McIntyre will talk about a hot topic around city hall — stormwater. McIntyre will present the latest research on the relation between stormwater and toxic effects on juvenile and adult salmon.

“I’m going to try not be depressing,” McIntyre said. “The exciting part about the research I’ll show is actually how there is great potential to prevent these problems from happening. Hopefully it will be encouraging to people.”

The lecture will include new “green” stormwater methods. She will discuss them in a presentation titled “Weathering the Storm: The Ecotoxicology of our Watershed Connections to Puget Sound.”

“We are talking about rain gardens, or what’s called bioretention systems — it’s a really fancy word for soil,” she said.

“The reason we are having these problems with stormwater is because we built over forest and wetlands. So, when possible, we need to recreate systems where water can go into soil and slow down,” McIntyre added.

Islander Wayne Daley will discuss the island’s watershed influence on the Puget Sound. Daley has years of experience at fisheries and volunteering on the island.

The conference will also offer an expert panel to put all the information together and answer questions about Puget Sound, and how Bainbridge Island can help it heal.

Islanders can register for the environmental event at www.bi-landtrust.org. Fees for the conference are also listed on the website.

In addition to the conference, tours before the conference are available on the Wyckoff Groundwater Treatment Plant, an EPA superfund site, at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 and the Winslow Wastewater Treatment Plant at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22.

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