Northern Hood Canal PIC Project

The mission of Jefferson County Public Health is to protect the health of Jefferson County residents and visitors by promoting safe, healthy communities and environments. Clean water is essential to the health and well-being of humans and wildlife. The overall goal of these projects is to protect human health from risks of waterborne pathogens, and restore and protect surface waters for beneficial uses, which include extraordinary aquatic life habitat, shellfish harvest, and recreational use.

ThNorthern Hood Canal PIC Neighborhoodse Northern Hood Canal Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) project began in early 2019 and encompasses 62 square miles, which includes the following eight neighborhoods organized by water basin: Port Ludlow, Paradise Bay, Bywater Bay, Shine, South Point, Thorndyke, Toandos East, and Coyle. These neighborhoods contain rural residential communities, recreational areas, and rural forestland. This area also includes 4,513 acres of approved shellfish beds. The only prohibited shellfish harvesting areas are the marinas in Port Ludlow, Bridgehaven (South Point), and Fisherman Harbor (Coyle). Historically the area has been used for lumber production, shipbuilding, fishing, and vacation properties. 

The 2014 Hood Canal Regional PIC Priority Work Plan identified the northern Hood Canal area from the Toandos Peninsula north to Mats Mats Bay as a high priority location for PIC projects, as the Hood Canal is a particularly important and vulnerable part of Puget Sound. The canal has great cultural, economic, and recreational value to Washington state residents and tribes. Water quality in this area is critical to protecting and enhancing human and ecological health, as well as shellfish resources. The area has seen multiple shellfish bed closures in the past. Previous monitoring found elevated levels of fecal coliform and E. coli at numerous locations along this area of Hood Canal.

For the current project, Jefferson County Public Health will continue monitoring this area for E.coli bacteria and Enterococcus bacteria. These bacteria indicate the presence of pathogens that could impact human health. Both are present in warm-blooded animals, but more precisely correlate with specifically human pathogens. Freshwater will be tested for E.coli, and brackish water will be tested for Enterococcus, as it survives better in saltwater than E.coli bacteria. 

This project, which will last approximately two years, will involve monitoring over 500 freshwater outflows for E.coli or Enterococcus along 45 miles of shoreline, from Basalt Point to Tskutsko Point. This project also includes monthly monitoring of five freshwater streams for E.coli bacteria, temperature, pH, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen. These streams are Cooper Creek in Paradise Bay, Shine Creek and Hubbard Creek in Shine, Thorndyke Creek in Thorndyke, and an unnamed creek flowing into Bywater Bay. These streams were chosen based on past data, proximity to residences, and proximity to shellfish harvesting areas. The water quality monitoring data will help prioritize areas for further investigation. We will compare average bacteria results to a state water quality standard in order to identify areas of concern and potential sources of nonpoint source pollution that can affect public health. When bacteria hot spots are identified, we will compose and distribute fact sheets with monitoring results to the residents in that area.

Following the monitoring, we will conduct at least 200 sanitary surveys at individual properties, with emphasis on properties without OSS permits or with OSS permits that are 25 years or older, properties with OSS within 500 feet of the shoreline or near surface water, and properties near water quality hot spots where high levels of bacteria have been found. The goal of these surveys is to identify and correct failing OSS that are polluting surface water, and to provide financial assistance for such repairs. The surveys involve evaluating the use and health of individual OSS, as well as one-on-one interactions to provide outreach and education regarding OSS operation and maintenance, financial assistance programs, water quality projects, and to provide lists of licensed OSS professionals. To prepare for sanitary surveys, staff research each property for background information, including OSS records. We provide the homeowner with this research at the end of the survey, and that will include the tax assessor’s page, OSS permit, OSS as-built (drawing), and most recent inspection report.

In addition to these one-on-one interactions, we will hold two public meetings throughout the duration of this project. We conducted one at the beginning of the project (4/11/19) to provide the public with further information regarding the project goals, and we will conduct the other at the end of the project to provide data and findings.

Quick terms:

Hot spot = E.coli geometric mean (average) of all samples is > 320 MPN/100 mL or a single E.coli sample is > 1000 MPN/100 mL, OR Enterococcus geometric mean of all samples is > 110 MPN/100 mL or a single Enterococcus sample is > 300 MPN/100 mL

MPN/100 mL = Most Probable Number (a statistical probability of the number of organisms) per 100 mL; a measure of the amount of E. coli or Enterococcus in a sample

Nonpoint source = water pollution that is spread over the landscape

OSS = on-site septic system

  1. J Stenman

    Jacquelyn Stenman

    Environmental Health Specialist II

  2. Environmental Public Health

    Physical Address
    617 Sheridan Street
    Port Townsend, WA 98368

    Mailing Address
    615 Sheridan Street
    Port Townsend, WA 98368

    Fax: 360-379-4487

    Email Environmental Public Health

    Hours
    Monday - Friday 
    9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

    Sanitarian Consult Walk-In Hours
    Monday - Friday
    9-10:30 a.m.