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Our shoreline provides tremendous value to our communities – from swimming, beach walks, and fishing, to shellfish harvesting and boating. Vashon-Maury Island’s beaches are a treasure for residents and visitors alike. But when our recreational waters become polluted with human or animal poop, this fecal pollution can make us sick.

Current project

Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) and Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) received a grant from the Washington State Department of Health to continue Pollution Identification and Correction work in priority areas for Spring 2018 to Spring 2020.

PHSKC is working with a Vashon-Maury PIC Advisory Group Committee to provide oversight, guidance and structure for the project. The committee includes representatives from Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), King County Water & Land Resources Division (WLRD), Puyallup Tribe, Washington State Department of Ecology (ECY), Vashon-Maury Ground Water protection committee, King Conservative District (KCD), real estate agency, and Vashon residents.

Previous successes

Over the past decade, PHSKC, Vashon homeowners and other partners have made large investments in reducing pollution and improving water quality. The investment improved water quality and resulted in reopening 493 acres of shellfish harvesting areas.

Continuing the work

PHSKC continues to work with Vashon-Maury Island residents to document improvements to water quality, find sources of excessive bacteria, and where possible, eliminate these sources. This next phase of the Shellfish Strategic Initiative includes:

  • Sampling and assessing water quality through sampling of freshwater flows to beaches starting February 2019
  • Providing technical support and education to homeowners and residents
  • Performing visual surveys and working together to find and fix bacterial pollution from septic systems, animal waste, and other sources

The project is focused on the Vashon-Maury Island Marine Recovery Area (MRA), but includes other priority areas.

Upcoming activities and events

  • Water quality sampling on beaches:
    September and October, 2019

Check back for more events happening on Vashon Island in the upcoming months. Water sampling schedules are preliminary and subject to change at any time.

Septic Maintenance Rebate

We are offering a rebate of up to $400 for septic maintenance activities performed in the project focus areas.

To be eligible for the rebate:

  • Give PHSKC permission to sample water on your property or, if your property is not by the shore, look for pollution sources
  • Complete this online course or attend a septic system maintenance workshop held in your neighborhood
  • Complete septic system maintenance inspection, riser installation, and/or pumping

To apply for the rebate, submit a completed PIC Rebate Application.

Deadline: June 30, 2019

Funding for rebates is limited. They will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis until funding is exhausted.

Why improve water quality

  • The Vashon-Maury shoreline provides value to the community in swimming, beach walks, fishing, boating, and shellfish harvesting.
  • Shellfish growing areas have been downgraded, water quality has declined, and fecal pollution from humans and animals is of grave concern.
  • High levels of fecal coliform bacteria in the saltwater along numerous Vashon beaches have prompted Washington State Department of Health to close commercial shellfish harvesting in some areas.
  • Pollution sources can impact property owners resulting in costly repairs, property damage and liability.
  • By working together, we have already fixed many pollution sources, and PHSKC thinks that water quality is good enough to open more shellfish beds.

Outreach and education materials

Septics 101 video

Online Septic Maintenance Course

Watch a 20-minute video to learn about septic systems. Then answer 3 questions about how to take care of your septic system. Provide your contact information to qualify for the Pollution Identification & Correction (PIC) rebate.

Water quality sampling

To make sure that excessive fecal bacteria are not affecting the water around Vashon-Maury Island, King County staff will sample freshwater flows onto the beaches along Puget Sound. Vashon residents may see County workers collecting fresh water samples along the beaches. County staff will only sample where there is public access or where they have permission from property owners to access private property.

Learn more on the Water quality sampling webpage.

What you can do

  • Help us to perform water sampling and visual surveys by giving consent for samplers to access your shoreline (in project focus areas only)
  • Find ways to make sure that no poop is entering the water. For example, make sure to pick up dog droppings on the beach and in your yard.
  • Attend workshops and events when available (see event schedule)
  • Perform septic maintenance for a rebate of up to $400 (in project focus area only)
  • Submit a pollution complaint if you are worried about pollution in your area by calling us at 206-477-8050 or use our online form.

Contact us

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under Assistance Agreement PC-01J18001 to the Washington State Department of Health. The contents of this information do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

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