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Stormwater Division
614 Division St.   Port Orchard, WA,  MS-26A
Phone:(360)337-5777 * Fax: (360)337-5678
 

    

 

 

Clean Water Kitsap


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Pollution from Fecal Coliform Bacteria

What is fecal coliform bacteria pollution?
Fecal coliform bacteria are naturally occurring microorganisms that live in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, including humans. The presence of fecal coliform bacteria in Kitsap County's creeks and shorelines indicates the water is contaminated with fecal waste from sources such as failing septic systems, leaking sewer infrastructure, household pets, livestock, and/or wildlife.

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Why is it a problem?
Though fecal coliform bacteria alone are not particularly harmful to humans, large concentrations indicate the possible presence of disease-causing viruses and pathogens. Water monitoring conducted throughout Kitsap County has identified elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria in some streams, which make them unsuitable for basic recreational uses. Fecal coliform bacteria pollution also results in shellfish bed advisories, and closures of shellfish beds and swimming beaches on Kitsap's shorelines.  To learn more, visit the Kitsap Public Health District Water Quality program website.

What is being done about it?
Clean Water Kitsap works to proactively reduce fecal coliform bacteria pollution in our waterways. Funds from this program are used by the Kitsap Public Health District to conduct Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) projects to identify and correct fecal sources in areas where bacteria pollution is high. These efforts have been successful in improving water quality throughout the county. Examples of successful Health District water quality projects include:

  • Cleanup project work in the Dogfish Creek watershed near Poulsbo has resulted in an improving water quality trend.
  • Gorst Creek Sanitary Survey work has resulted in a long-term improving trend in Gorst Creek water quality.
  • Water quality project in the Yukon Harbor area near Manchester has resulted in improving marine water quality.
  • The Health District expanded cleanup efforts into urban areas in the Dyes Inlet Restoration project. Water quality results were quickly observed with marine water improvements, and Clear Creek water quality improved dramatically allowing the removal of public warning signs.
  • Pollution identification work in Hood Canal has resulted in an improving water quality trend in Port Gamble Bay. Shoreline discharges from drainages with failing septic systems showed elevated nutrients. Nutrient levels were reduced after correction.

For more information on these and other PIC projects, visit the Health Districts website:

http://www.kitsappublichealth.org/environmenta_health/water_quality/pic.htm

Special attention has also been focused on Dyes and Sinclair Inlets and their surrounding watersheds. These areas are included on the Washington State Department of Ecology's list of impaired water bodies due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria and other pollutants. A water quality improvement plan is currently being developed, and work to improve the water bodies has already started through a partnership called Project ENVVEST (short for ENVironmental inVESTment)

What can you do?
Citizens can help reduce fecal coliform pollution from three main sources: failing septic systems, pet waste, and livestock.

Septic systems are very effective at treating wastewater when properly maintained. Numerous resources are available to help homeowners understand and care for their systems. Learn more at Kitsap Public Health District's website.

Surprisingly, pets in Kitsap County may produce more than 5 tons of waste each day. Although pet waste is natural and may even seem like good fertilizer, it is actually similar to raw sewage and can pose health risks to your family and pets! Bacteria and viruses from pet waste may wash into local waterways and can remain in the environment for a long time, degrading water quality for uses such as swimming, fishing, and shellfish harvesting. Whether in a park, on a walk, or in the yard, pet owners should regularly pick up pet waste, double bag it, and dispose of it in the trash.

Mutt Mitt dispensers are available for FREE to individuals or groups who would like to install "dog rest stops" in their community. Kitsap County Public Works and Kitsap Public Health District have teamed up to provide the dispenser and a case of 800 mitts to community representatives who are willing to regularly refill the dispenser and provide trash service.

Livestock can also contribute to fecal pollution in our local waterways. As a Clean Water Kitsap County program partner, the Kitsap Conservation District provides a voluntary program to help farmers and livestock owners manage their land and animals to reduce and prevent fecal pollution. To learn more about practices to use on small farms to improve water quality, visit the Conservation District's website.

 


Updated: 02/01/2017
Stormwater Division

360.337.5777 or 800.825.4940
Kitsap1@co.kitsap.wa.us