Growing area restoration involves finding and correcting nonpoint fecal pollution sources that reduce marine water quality and cause closure of commercial and recreational shellfish beds. Examples of nonpoint fecal pollution are failing on-site sewage systems, improper management of animal waste, or any fecal pollution that finds its way to a creek, river, or storm drain and eventually ends up in marine waters.
Water Quality Monitoring
We routinely sample water around commercial and recreational shellfish growing areas to make sure it meets health standards. If water quality fails to meet those standards, we restrict or close that area to shellfish harvest. This is called a classification downgrade.
When a shellfish area's classification is downgraded due to poor water quality, the county authority must create a shellfish protection district and implement a program to find and correct the pollution source(s) that are causing water quality to decline (see RCW 90.72.045). Shellfish protection districts have proven to be very effective in reversing pollution of Washington's saltwater beaches, preventing new pollution sources, and reopening shellfish areas to harvest.
Shellfish Protection Districts
As of May 2014, there are 14 active and 5 inactive shellfish protection districts in Washington. Each shellfish protection district is unique in both membership and strategy. Differences in geography and potential pollution sources, political structures, and the number and type of stakeholders result in a wide range of pollution correction methods that are used to target challenges specific to each shellfish protection district.
We have gathered documents from shellfish protection districts that define their particular approach to creating a shellfish protection district and implementing pollution identification and correction programs. View the list of shellfish protection districts.
Active Shellfish Protection Districts
These growing areas have ongoing shellfish protection district programs and are actively involved in pollution prevention and detection. They include:
- Birch Bay (Whatcom County)
- Burley Lagoon (Pierce County)
- Drayton Harbor (Whatcom County)
- Dungeness Bay (Clallam County)
- Filucy Bay (Pierce County)
- Jefferson County Clean Water District
- Nisqually Reach / Henderson Inlet (Thurston County)
- Oakland Bay (Mason County)
- Pacific Coast (Grays Harbor County)
- Portage Bay (Whatcom County)
- Rocky Bay (Pierce County)
- Sequim Bay (Clallam County)
- Skagit County Clean Water Program / Clean Samish Initiative (Skagit County)
- Stillaguamish River Clean Water District (Snohomish County)
Kitsap County Public Health has a Pollution Identification and Correction program and is actively involved in pollution prevention, but is not specifically designated as a shellfish protection district.
Inactive Shellfish Protection Districts
Inactive shellfish protection districts are those that have successfully implemented their pollution control plan which reduced pollution impacts and improved water quality. These shellfish protection districts keep their identity, but no current actions are being implemented. The inactive shellfish protection districts in Washington are:
- Annas Bay
- Lower Hood Canal
- Port Gamble Bay
- South Holmes Harbor
- Totten / Little Skookum Inlets.