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Clean water is important to many people in South King County who enjoy Poverty Bay for swimming, diving, boating, beach-walking, and fishing. Yet, water quality in Poverty Bay has worsened over time from various fecal (poop) pollution sources. If poop is in the water, germs, viruses, bacteria, and parasites are present in water, which can be threats to the health of residents, visitors, and animals in the sea.

The Poverty Bay Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program focuses on protecting our community by taking care of poop from humans and animals.


Why Should I Care about Fecal Pollution?

Is poop in the water really that bad? If we are talking about the poop from humans and pets, the answer is “Yes, it is bad.” Unlike poop from orcas and fish, which can be a beneficial fertilizer in the ocean, poop from humans and pets contains germs, viruses, bacteria, and sometimes parasites that can be harmful to the health of water, shellfish, pets, and people.

  • Poopy water is not good for walking along the beach, swimming, fishing, and boating in the water. Germs, viruses, bacteria, and parasites in poop from humans and animals can cause serious illness even from just a small amount of poopy water. For example, one gram of dog poop can contain up to 23 million fecal coliform bacteria. Find out more about how poop makes us ill.
  • Poopy water consumed by marine plants and animals ultimately threatens our health. Ever worried about E.coli outbreaks from green leafy vegetables? E.coli transmitted from human and animal poop to the water is a concern for those that enjoy Poverty Bay. Poverty Bay is an important area for commercial shellfish harvesting, which extends nearly 1000 acres. The shellfish harvested here go to restaurants where people often enjoy eating them raw. Currently, a large area of Poverty Bay is closed for commercial shellfish harvesting from June through November and closed to public shellfish harvesting due to pollution.

Help keep the water clean

Where Does Your Poop Flow?

Poverty Bay Map

Fecal (poop) pollution happens when poop is inappropriately disposed of in parks or roads, or left untreated through failing septic systems or broken sewer pipes. When rain washes over poop on streets or when human poop is not treated properly through septic or sewer systems, the poop runs over the landscape, flows into the nearest water body, and pollutes our creeks and beaches.

  • Fecal pollution starts from our homes. Poverty Bay has many homes with septic systems; 78% of Poverty Bay parcels with septic systems are residential while only 2% are commercial1. This tells us that we must make sure home septic systems are working to stop poop from going into local creeks.
  • Fecal pollution starts from our yard, streets, and parks where pet poop isn’t always picked up. Within the Poverty Bay Shellfish Protection District, there is poop from dog, cat, or other pets that is left on sidewalks, parks, and other public spaces. When it rains, the poop gets washed down a storm drain and eventually washes into Poverty Bay.

Poopy water reaches the Poverty Bay shoreline from various channels. Five creeks within the Poverty Bay Shellfish Protection District—Massey, McSorley, Woodmont, Redondo, and Cold Creek—flow into Poverty Bay and bring pollution from human and animal poop with them. The untreated poopy water from facilities, houses, and parks has become major pollution sources in Poverty Bay.

1 Report: Poverty Bay Closure Response Plan_update 051319

King County is Working with You to Find and Fix Poop Pollution!

Everyone can help prevent fecal pollution! Fixing the pollution by doing all our part helps our families and animals enjoy clean and safe water.

  • Poverty Bay sampling

    King County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) collects water samples to track the poop pollutants in the water in Poverty Bay. Current water sampling is focused on Redondo and Cold Creeks and the rainwater conveyance systems that drain to those creeks. If water samples have high levels of poop bacteria, then we work to trace the pollution to its source.

    Interested in the water quality near you? Check out the map.

  • Join us in finding poop pollution!
  • We offer free technical assistance for septic system owners. We will help you to prevent septic system failures and pollution on your property.
  • Check out our financial assistance programs for your septic system.
  • Consider having your sewer infrastructure inspected for broken pipes—they can be quite costly if not found at the right time!