Cleaning up Puget Sound—removing toxics and restoring its ecosystems—could cost as much as $10 billion, according to a gathering of conservationists and lawmakers as reported in the Seattle Times. Leaders are hoping to wrangle $5 billion of that total from Congress, but so far the Army Corps of Engineers, which has a sweeping vision for restoring the Sound, has garnered only a tiny fraction of the necessary dough.

Okay, $10 billion is a lot of money—even when it’s spread out over a number of years—but one way to make the amount seem smaller is to compare it to other expenses. So, just for the heck of it, how about a comparison to American household spending? Here’s how that multi-year $10 billion compares to just a single year (2003) of spending. It’s…

  • 30% of household spending on tobacco
  • 22% of household spending on alcohol
  • 7% of household spending on gasoline
  • 4% of household spending on health care

Or another, more locally relevant way to think about it: it’s substantially less money than taxpayers in just three counties—King, Pierce, and Snohomish—were, in 2004, nearly asked to shell out for a Regional Transportation Improvement District that was predominantly for road-building.