The “Marine Recovery Area,” Septics, and Shellfish
A Marine Recovery Area (MRA) is established to focus attention on and protect especially sensitive marine waters from pollution from poorly functioning or failing septic systems. A 2006 state law (RCW 70.118A) required Puget Sound counties (including Clallam County) to designate MRAs where shellfish growing areas are closed due to bacterial pollution (or if closure is likely), or where bacteria or nitrogen are seriously affecting water quality.
Why was an MRA formed?
The MRA in eastern Clallam County was established because parts of Dungeness Bay are currently closed for commercial and recreational shellfish gathering, and there are bacterial pollution problems in some of the streams that empty into the Bay and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Human waste, most likely from poorly functioning or failing septic systems, is contributing to these problems according to recent research that identified bacterial sources. The Sequim-Dungeness Clean Water District was created by Clallam County in 2001 partly to address issues such as insufficient monitoring of septic systems. Because of this link the MRA was located to essentially coincide with the Clean Water District.
Where is it exactly?
The MRA encompasses the Dungeness Watershed, those waters influenced by it through the irrigation system, and nearby independent tributaries to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It extends from the Bagley Creek drainage east to and including the Sequim Bay Watershed and Miller Peninsula, and from the Strait south to the county line. Please click the on the map to the right for a full screen image detailing the Marine Recovery Area's boundary.
How does living in the MRA affect me?
Septic system owners in the MRA must have a recent inspection performed by a professional licensed to conduct inspections in Clallam County before inspecting their own systems. Homeowners who have completed Do-It-Yourself training (Septics 201) will be allowed to inspect their own septic system if it meets all of the requirements of the do-it-yourself inspection program once they have a recent professional inspection on file. See the Summary of Septic System Inspection Requirements for more information.
The Spring 2011 issue of the Clean Water Herald “Septics Edition” describes the basic elements of a professional inspection and has more detail about the MRA. View this detailed brochure (1.4MB PDF) regarding Septic System Inspection Requirements in the MRA for more information.
Return to the Onsite Septic Systems main page.