Central Hood Canal Project

Central Hood Canal Pollution Identification and Control Project

Shellfish growing areas are classified by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) as either Approved, Conditionally Approved, Restricted or Prohibited based on yearly water quality sampling to make sure that they meet fecal coliform bacteria standards under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP). In the December 2016 report for Hood Canal Area 3 (latest Report Addendum here), which includes shoreline areas from Brinnon, the mouth of the Duckabush and Dosewallips Rivers, and south into Mason County, the DOH found that, while most stations passed the NSSP water quality standard for Approved classification, one, Station 137 near the mouth of the Duckabush River, fails the standard and several nearby stations are also "threatened" or of "concern". As a result, the State Department of Health downgraded the shoreline area near the mouth of the Duckabush from “Approved” to “Conditionally Approved” in September 2017.

What this means for commercial and recreational shellfish harvesters is that the shoreline area off the mouth of the Duckabush (see Map) is closed to shellfish harvesting from May 1 to October 31 each year, when fecal coliform concentrations are highest, or until water quality at these stations improves.

To address this concern, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) started the Central Hood Canal Pollution Identification and Control Project to do additional monitoring in this area and try to identify sources of elevated fecal coliform bacteria contamination. We’ll also be doing increased public outreach and education on septic system care and maintenance because these systems are a potential source of the contamination. The status and condition of septic systems in the project area will be assessed through surveys to help prioritize areas for Pollution Identification and Correction work. The Central Hood Canal Project area contains several hundred older or undocumented septic systems.

A JCPH septic system survey consists of:

  • 5-minute questionnaire on your water use patterns and maintenance history
  • tips for maintaining your system
  • information about upcoming homeowner classes
  • information about rebates and financial assistance for repairs
  • quick visual inspection of the drainfield

When available, JCPH provides a copy of the “as-built” drawing from the permit files to the homeowner as a courtesy. It’s easier to take care of components when you know where they are! Sometimes JCPH also has water-conservation kits to offer to survey respondents on a first-come, first served basis.

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