Strait Priority Areas Project
The Strait Priority Areas Project will improve and protect water quality in both developed and undeveloped areas of Jefferson County, Discovery Bay, areas of the Northern Quimper Peninsula including the city of Port Townsend, several watersheds (Salmon, Snow, Contractors and Eagle creeks), and approximately 35 miles of shoreline (Figure 1). This project will monitor shorelines, freshwater streams, and an estuary (Discovery Bay) for non-point sources of pollution and nutrients. This project will increase and maintain water quality awareness through public outreach and education efforts.
The Strait Priority Areas Project area contains several hundred older or unpermitted onsite septic systems (OSS) within 500 feet of the shoreline. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) will complete sanitary surveys on prioritized properties. This project will lay a foundation for the development of best management practices (BMPs) for agricultural areas throughout the rural areas. Discovery Bay contains over 3,000 acres of prime shellfish habitat, which are regionally important for commercial and recreational harvesting.
The goals of the Strait Priority Areas Project are to protect human health from risks of waterborne pathogens, keep shellfish beds open, meet Washington State Water Quality Standards, and improve water quality for recreational usage. Discovery Bay is listed as Category 5 for dissolved oxygen on the Department of Ecology’s 303d list (DOE, 2017). Regular monitoring of freshwater and marine waters will identify areas of non-point source fecal bacteria and nutrient pollution. Jefferson County Conservation District (JCCD) will support JCPH in developing an Agricultural Work Plan and implement BMPs to abate nutrient and livestock waste entering waterbodies through surface runoff. The status and condition of OSS in the project area will be assessed through sanitary surveys and help set a prioritized direction for Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) work.
A sanitary survey consists of three sections: Questionnaire, helpful tips for longevity, and visual inspection of septic components. The Strait Priority Areas Project, along with cooperation from Jefferson County residents, will maintain and improve the water quality within Jefferson County.