Skagit County Shellfish Protection District* - Tools for Correcting Pollution Sources

* Skagit County Clean Water Program (CWP) / Clean Samish Initiative (CSI) / Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program

Water Quality Monitoring and Dye-testing

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

The CSI involves water quality monitoring at 31 sites. Water quality data is used to focus property inspections and restoration activities. Sampling has also included Microbial Source Tracking (MST) and the use of sewage-sniffing dogs is planned.

Office Evaluation

(Includes GIS and other existing data evaluation.)

Mapping tools are used to delineate sub-basins, locate pollution hotspots, and track progress in property and OSS inspections, BMP implementation, and riparian restoration.

Parcel Inspection (Sanitary Survey)

Owners of properties identified by evaluation/inspection and car were contacted via letter, with a follow up meeting between an inspector from Skagit County or Ecology and the landowner to discuss the property. The program is closely coordinated with Ecology and WSDA. For more information, refer to the Integrated PIC Protocol for Site Inspections (PDF), which lays out County and CD responsibilities and specific procedures followed for site visits with property owners.

Visual Inspections from Vehicle

Property evaluation/inspection was conducted by car.

Experimental Methods

Microbial Source Tracking (MST)

Ambient and storm sampling included MST. MST helped the public understand that the county was looking for all sources of pollution. This was a useful educational device and fostered good discussion with the public.

Plane Fly-Overs

County personnel participate in airplane overflights to assess the overall condition of the Samish Basin.

Scent Testing

Ambient and storm sampling may involve sewage sniffing dogs. The dogs will be brought into a scent neutral area, provided samples, and when they indicate a "hit" they'll walk into the area to indicate the source. The program will use Environmental Canine Services, and the process will last between two and three days. For more information see the reports from Environmental Canine Services LLC (PDF) and Skagit County (PDF).


OSS inspection and tank riser installation reimbursements are available. Low-interest loans for repair of failing OSSs are available. Riparian protection projects, including fencing, planting, and fish habitat structures, are available at no cost to the landowner through the Skagit County Natural Resources Stewardship Program. The Skagit CD also has cost-share programs for BMP implementation.

Technical assistance includes OSS inspection and repair, conservation farm planning, livestock exclusion fencing, riparian planting, heavy use protection areas, manure storage, and downspouts. These are primarily provided by the Skagit CD.

The CD sits on the CSI executive committee and typically provides monthly updates to the group regarding BMP implementation, technical assistance on BMPs (design and/or cost-share applications), voluntary assistance requests, and site visits, among other issues.

Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Fencing of Heavy Use Areas

Livestock exclusion fencing and heavy use protection areas are offered to farm owners.

Riparian Buffers

Riparian planting is a frequently used tool.

Farm Plans

Conservation farm planning is offered to farm owners.

Operation and Maintenance

OSS inspection and repairs are available to property owners.

Other Tools

Other tools include manure storage and downspouts.

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