Kitsap County Surface Water Management - Tools for Correcting Pollution Sources

Water Quality Monitoring and Dye-testing

(Includes establishing water quality monitoring, ambient monitoring, targeted shoreline monitoring, storm/event sampling.)

Kitsap Health conducts trend (ambient) monitoring of fresh waters and receiving marine waters to determine whether they meet water quality standards and short-term and long-term trends. Shoreline surveys are conducted to protect and restore shellfish beds on a rotating basis and during wet and dry weather seasons. Pollution hotspots are confirmed and investigated through segment monitoring, parcel surveys, and dye testing when necessary.

Office Evaluation

Includes GIS and Other Existing Data Evaluation

Kitsap Health's PIC Protocol (PDF) guides all PIC activities. It specifies that a project area evaluation is initiated once a priority watershed has been identified. Available data and background information is collected and reviewed. Examples include: project area details, history, maps, public access areas, water quality data, soil conditions, sewer maps, stormwater maps, and DOH shellfish areas and reports. Property inspection forms are prepared with assessor records, OSS records, and applicable O&M records. KCD utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) aerial photographs to conduct initial farm inventories.

Parcel Inspection (Sanitary Survey)

Kitsap Health conducts property inspections pursuant to the PIC Protocol. Parcel inspections include contacting the property owner/occupant to conduct an informational interview, and obtaining access and consent to perform a field inspection of the property. The inspection includes an assessment of OSS components and animal waste management practices; evaluating discharges leaving the property; making site-specific recommendations to reduce stress to the OSS; and dye testing the OSS if a problem is suspected.

Farm inspections and pollution corrections are conducted according to the following procedure:

  1. Ranked inventory: make visual inspection of farms from a vehicle. First priority sites are those with a high probability of pollution, second priority are those in poor condition. Create a list of potential sites.
  2. Initial investigation: look for potential fecal sources and surface water drainage.
  3. Parcel investigation: collect three to five sets of investigative water samples and photograph potential sources.
  4. Initial meeting: Kitsap Public Health meets with the property owner to alert them to the pollution source(s).
  5. Refer to Conservation District: water quality violations are referred to the KCD because they are experts at working with agricultural property owners. They may recommend Best Management Practices (BMPs) that benefit both the environment and the landowner, including:
    • Livestock exclusion fencing
    • Livestock waste transfer (for example, filter strips)
    • Waste storage facility
    • Mud management (including gutters, downspouts, confinement fencing)
    • Heavy use area protection
    • Diversion
    • Pasture renovation
    • Farm planning

Kitsap County is currently not sampling for nitrogen or ammonia because urine isn't an issue of concern. Primarily the county uses setbacks and vegetative buffers to manage urine.

A considerable amount of project education and outreach is conducted during door-to-door parcel surveys. Kitsap Health uses a property inspection form as a checklist for water quality topics to cover. The topics presented are tailored to site-specific practices including: pet waste, natural landscaping, and diverting surface water away from OSS components. Project fact sheets, OSS permit records, informational brochures, certified pumper lists, are distributed during parcel surveys.

Visual Inspections from Vehicle

KCD conducts windshield surveys to inventory and rank farms. Kitsap Health confirms potential pollution sources on high priority farms through windshield surveys.

Experimental Methods

Microbial Source Tracking (MST)


Plane Fly-Overs


Scent Testing



Technical assistance is offered to assist property owner/residents in preventing and correcting pollution sources. Kitsap Health has used targeted OSS pumping vouchers to assist property owners and to help determine OSS status. Postcards offering a $100 rebate were mailed to owners/residents of properties that had not inspected or pumped their OSS within the last three years. An informational letter described the project, and offered the rebate if the inspection was conducted during the wet weather season (between November and April) so that the system could be assessed during the time of year when groundwater and surface water intrusion can compromise OSS treatment. The rebate was issued when the postcard was returned to Kitsap Health with an inspection/pump receipt from a certified pumping contractor (a list was enclosed in the mailing). The return rate was approximately 25 percent in Kitsap's two MRAs: Burley Lagoon and Liberty Bay watersheds.

Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Fencing of Heavy Use Areas

The KCD may recommend BMPs that benefit both the environment and the landowner, including livestock exclusion fencing and heavy use area protection.

Riparian Buffers

Kitsap Health works in partnership with KCD to correct animal manure violations. KCD provides free technical assistance to landowners to establish BMPs. Buffers are established in conformance with federal, state and local requirements. Cost share money for livestock and agricultural animal manure land management practices has been a good catalyst, resulting in behavior change and increased landowner stewardship. Cost share incentive programs have proven effective in achieving water quality improvements in challenging situations and during adverse economic conditions. This method minimizes expensive and time-consuming enforcement that also damages public relationships and strains partnerships. Good land management practices prevent erosion that forms run-off channels through the riparian zone and transports pollution to streams and shorelines. Incentives are a basic tenant of the social marketing process, where marketing principles are utilized to encourage behavior change for public good and reduce the need for expensive enforcement.

Farm Plans

The KCD may recommend farm planning. A waste management plan is a priority planning element.

Operation and Maintenance

Kitsap Health developed the first comprehensive OSS O&M program in Washington State. The program protects public health and water quality through an ongoing OSS inspection program conducted by certified contractors, staff follow–up, enforcement of needed corrections, and public education and outreach. An O&M database was developed and is vital to the success of the program. It allows contractors to enter inspection information online, run reports showing when a property is due for inspection, and download OSS permit records. Kitsap Health uses the database to track required contracts, inspection deficiencies, OSS failures, and performance of various type of systems/technologies. Washington State licensed designers and certified OSS installers, operation and maintenance specialists, and pumpers are required to report OSS inspection and pumping data online and to report failures and system deficiencies. OSS failures are also identified and confirmed through the public complaint process. See Pollution Source: Onsite Sewage Systems.

Other Tools

The KCD may recommend livestock waste transfer (for example, filter strips, waste storage facility, mud management (including gutters, downspouts, confinement fencing), diversion and pasture renovation.

More About Kitsap County Surface Water Management

Other Shellfish Protection Districts