Clallam County partners honored for work that helped reopen 728 acres of Dungeness shellfish beds (news release)

News from the Puget Sound Partnership:

November 20, 2015

Dungeness Bay

Dungeness Bay

SEQUIM — Today the Puget Sound Partnership honored several members of the Sequim-Dungeness Clean Water Work Group as Puget Sound Champions. The group’s sustained efforts, combined with cooperation from the local community, are behind the upgrade to 728 acres of shellfish beds in Dungeness Bay.

“Clean water is a critical, foundational necessity for all Washington State residents,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “Our state’s shellfish industry relies on clean water; so do our salmon, our orcas, and the millions of people who live here. We need to protect this critical resource to protect jobs, industry, citizens and tribes. A ‘dig-able’ Puget Sound is good for all of us.”

Key activities that contributed to the recent upgrade include lining irrigation ditches that flow to Dungeness Bay, repairing and replacing septic systems, and putting farm plans into practice in the watershed.

“Great things happen when our local, state, and tribal partners work hand in hand with communities to find and fix pollution problems,” said Jerrod Davis, director of the shellfish programs at the Washington State Department of Health. “Through cooperation and focused investments, we can improve water quality, making it safer for shellfish harvest and the rest of the ecosystem.”

The honorees include:

  • Clallam County’s Environmental Health Department has been conducting ongoing testing of water that flows into the river, investigating septic systems, and providing financial help to homeowners to fix septic tank problems. The county has also been training homeowners about septic system maintenance and helped implement the Sequim-Dungeness Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program.
  • Clallam Conservation District has been working with farmers to reduce agricultural pollution and provided a cost-share incentive for farms and septic system repairs. They’ve also helped by piping irrigation ditches within the watershed and were instrumental in the development of the Sequim-Dungeness PIC program.
  • Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has performed marine and freshwater monitoring as well as water quality education and outreach, and has secured funding for several grant projects to help identify sources of fecal coliform pollution. They’ve also helped in the development of the Sequim-Dungeness PIC program.
  • Dungeness Agricultural Water Users Association piped several irrigation ditches flowing into Dungeness Bay that were identified as sources of fecal pollution.
  • Matt Heins is an active member of the Sequim Dungeness Clean Water Work Group and manager of Dungeness Bay Farms, located on habitat-critical property at the mouth of the Dungeness River. Heins has allowed access to monitoring locations and assisted with the development of the Sequim-Dungeness PIC program.

The 2015 State of the Sound reports that, as of May 2015, Puget Sound saw a net increase of 2,851 acres of shellfish beds since 2007. This resulted from the reopening of 7,828 acres for harvest and takes into account the fact that 4,977 acres were closed due to poor water quality. The 2020 goal is to achieve a net increase of 10,800 harvestable shellfish acres, including 7,000 acres where harvest had been prohibited. Given current trends, meeting the 2020 target could be challenging. As of October, the Department of Health reported a net acreage improvement of 3,813 acres.

“This is really all about keeping our water clean,” said Sheida R. Sahandy, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “Right now we’re still seeing too many shellfish beds getting downgraded because the water is not clean. Whether it’s keeping septic systems from leaking or preventing toxins from being washed into our waters by rainwater, we have a responsibility to do the right thing. It’s about more than shellfish beds, it’s about investing in a healthy community and leaving our children something most of us have taken for granted in our lifetimes: clean, safe waters.”

Additional resources:

About the Washington Shellfish Initiative

The Governor’s Washington Shellfish Initiative lays out ambitious and vital goals for supporting the long-term and sustained health of Washington State shellfish resources and the marine system. The next phase of this initiative is in the works, and the intent is to build on the past three years of progress through continued commitment to clean water issues, ocean acidification, and shellfish research.

About the Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency formed to lead the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working hundreds of governments, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, the Partnership mobilizes partner action around a common agenda, advances Sound investments, and tracks progress to optimize recovery.

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Alicia Lawver
(360) 464-2011