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Clean water in King County

Many people in King County enjoy swimming, boating, and floating. Water quality is an important topic, and there are many things that influence it, including poop pollution. King County lakes, streams, and beaches have less poop in the water now than they did 40 years ago. However, about 25% of test sites show that there are likely problems with poop pollution.


Pollution from poop threatens human health and the environment in King County

Many King County lakes, streams, and beaches are dirty with poop. The more poop in the water the more likely there will be germs present. More germs in the water means that people are more likely to get sick when they play in the water or eat shellfish from polluted waters.

Playing in poopy water is just not any fun!

Kids at a polluted beach

Beach closure sign
How do we measure poop?

We use fecal bacteria to measure poop in the water. Many germs that can come from poop (bacteria, viruses, parasites, and others). It is not possible to test for each one, so we test for fecal indicator bacteria instead. These are groups of bacteria that are easy to measure and can predict the risk of getting sick. These fecal indicator bacteria live in the intestines of all warm-blooded animals, including people, dogs, geese, and ducks.

How does poop get in the water?

Poop can get in the water from many different sources. Some of these are:

  • Broken or improperly connected side sewers
  • Improperly managed livestock manure
  • Failing on-site sewage systems
  • Persons experiencing homelessness without access to proper sanitation
  • Pet waste that is not disposed of properly

Everyone plays a role in stopping these sources, from sewer operators to dog owners. It is everyone’s job to protect our environment and prevent pollution.


How do we stop pollution and clean up poopy water?

In a Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program, people work together to find areas with a lot of poop pollution. Then we look at each possible source of poop and fix those that are causing pollution in this area. By working together, we can see the big picture and use our resources more effectively.

Check out this interactive story map to learn more.


PIC interagency partners


King County is creating a Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program

The first step is to create a group of partners from different agencies and organizations. This group will start coordinating the work that everyone is doing to stop poop pollution.

These reports have more information about poop pollution, a PIC Program, and next steps.

Link/share our site at www.kingcounty.gov/pic