Hood Canal One of Growing Number of Dead Zones

Hood Canal is dying in slow motion, victim of a growing oxygen-deprived “dead zone,” and there is little political will or means to save it. The misleadingly named body of water — it’s actually a fjord, closed on one end — is the deep-water arm of Puget Sound, separating Washington state’s pristine Olympic Peninsula from the urban sprawl around Seattle. It is not only home to a broad variety of sea life, but the hub of a large ecosystem of forests, salmon-rich streams, and wildlife. The “dead zone,” like those found in Los Angeles harbor, Chesapeake Bay, and coastal areas around the world, results from algae blooming on the surface, dying, and decomposing on the floor, sucking up oxygen. No one knows the particular source of the pollution in Hood Canal, but many blame population growth. The surrounding area is fast filling up with bedroom communities dependent on old, leaky septic systems. But replacing the septic systems would cost money, which would mean raising taxes, an idea with little public support.