Commencement Bay NRDA web site banner
Quick link:

Commencement Bay, Tacoma, Washington
Natural Resource Trustees

Site history: Chronic release of hazardous substances began in the 1920s and continues through the present.

Location: The nearshore area and waterways of Commencement Bay. Commencement Bay is the harbor for Tacoma, Washington, and is located at the southern end of Puget Sound.

Case status: Assessment ongoing. Restoration is being planned, implemented and monitored


Commencement Bay is the harbor for Tacoma, Washington, located at the southern end of Puget Sound. Beginning in the early 1900s, intertidal areas and tideflats of the Puyallup River Delta were filled in and meandering streams were channelized, resulting in the eight waterways (Hylebos, Blair, Sitcum, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Middle, Thea Foss, and Wheeler-Osgood) that lead into the Bay.

Industrial and commercial activities are located on or adjacent to each of the waterways. They include pulp and lumber mills, shipbuilding and ship repair facilities, shipping docks, marinas, chlorine and chemical production facilities, concrete production facilities, aluminum smelting facilities, oil refineries, food processing plants, automotive repair shops, railroad operations, and numerous other storage, transportation, and chemical manufacturing companies. Contaminants originate from both point and nonpoint sources (Commencement Bay Nearshore/Tideflats Record of Decision, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1989).

The nearshore area and waterways of Commencement Bay are used extensively as rearing and feeding habitat by numerous marine species, and the Bay serves as a migratory pathway for salmonids. Many fish species feed on small epibenthic and benthic organisms before migrating offshore. The Trustees’ concerns about the Commencement Bay area involve the adverse effects to trust resources resulting from the contaminated sediments and releases of hazardous substances in the Bay and its waterways.

Overview map of Commencement Bay with waterways

Public Involvement

For details on the next volunteer event, contact

Additional information: DARRP web site. Other documents: settlements and restoration plans

Commencement Bay Natural Resource Trustees

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior, The Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, and the Washington State Department of Ecology

Publication of the NOAA
Lead Administrative Trustee

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce
Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | FOIA | Information Quality | Strategic Plan | Fair Act | ESR System | No FEAR Act | White House | | Search Government Sites
Last Updated:
August 20, 2013