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Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC)

What’s New with the PIC Program?

Latest PIC Open House was on June 23rd, 2017 at the Dungeness Schoolhouse

The latest PIC Open House was held on June 23rd, 2017 with encouraging community involvement. A PDF version of the June 23rd, 2017 PIC informational presentation is available for public review.

Financial Assistance Available

Financial assistance such as low interest loans through Craft 3 and USDA and up to 75% cost share assistance through the Clallam Conservation District is also available to help homeowners repair or replace failing onsite septic systems. See additional information provided on these programs in the link below. 

What is the PIC Program? 

The Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program is designed to improve the water quality of Sequim and Dungeness Bays by investigating sources of bacterial pollution. Many of these pollutants are deposited in the bay by the rivers and streams of the Dungeness Watershed, which drains 215 square miles of the surrounding area. After narrowing the search down to the most impacted areas, sources of pollution are tracked down and cleaned up. The program was developed as a response to poor water quality and shellfish bed closures in Dungeness Bay.

PIC Fact Sheet

2015 PIC Pilot Project:

Lower Dungeness Water Quality

Map of PIC Pilot Project AreaIn 2014, the Clallam County Environmental Health, in partnership with the Clallam Conservation District, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe and public, developed a Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) plan to map out a strategy for identifying and correcting sources of water pollution. For more information on the public PIC planning process, visit the Clallam Conservation District PIC web page.

Implementation of a PIC pilot project began in Summer 2015 in the lower Dungeness watershed, including the areas of Golden Sands Slough, Meadowbrook Slough, Meadowbrook Creek, and the Dungeness River. PIC work continues to show success and the project area will now expand to include waters further up the Dungeness into the Matriotti watershed.

The marine shoreline of the Lower Dungeness watershed has abundant shellfish beds that have been harvested and enjoyed for generations. This watershed and its freshwater tributaries (including Meadowbrook Creek, Golden Sands Slough, Meadowbrook Slough, Cooper Creek, and Dungeness River) also have a long history of fecal bacteria pollution dating back to the early 1990’s.  Because of this, the tidelands surrounding the mouth of the Dungeness River are closed to shellfish harvest year-round, and other areas are closed during winter months. Over the past 15 years water quality improvements have been made, leading to shellfish area upgrades, but there is more to do.

How do we investigate pollution levels?

The first step in our investigation is called “trends monitoring.” Water samples are collected near the mouths of major streams in the watershed to give us an idea of the water quality going into the bay. By looking at the data over time, we can identify areas that are consistently more polluted and need further investigation.

Polluted Stream

Teams then work their way upstream collecting water samples to test for fecal coliform (FC) bacteria. Testing for FC is a quick, inexpensive and widely-accepted means to determine if pathogens from human and/or animal waste may be present in the water. When bacteria levels are high, people can get sick from swimming in the bay or eating shellfish harvested in the area.

Using this process of “segmented sampling” we can further narrow the search of pollution sources. At this point we contact owners of neighboring properties to discuss potential concerns, additional testing steps, and how they can help. In some instances, tracer dye testing is used to track the interaction of groundwater with creeks and sloughs in the project area.

Meadowbrook Slough Dye Testing Fact Sheet

For complete information on PIC methods:

 

Where we are currently focused:

Based on trends monitoring of the watershed, the initial focus areas of Golden Sands Slough, Meadowbrook Slough, and Meadowbrook Creek were chosen for segmented sampling. For maps of sampling sites and results from testing, see the following links.2017 PIC Project Area Map

Our next area of interest is Matriotti Creek. We are currently planning activities in the watershed. Environmental Health, in coordination with PIC Partners, will be studying parcel records, requesting site visits, conducting water quality sampling, and working with property owners to improve and protect water quality.

PIC Project Area Map

When Pollution is detected, what next?

Whether the problem stems from farm animal runoff, a faulty septic system, or another cause, we can advise homeowners on the steps they can take.  We can help:

  • Monitor water quality changes and report to the community
  • Inform property owners of financial and technical resources available including Craft 3 Clean Water Loans and Conservation District cost-share programs
  • Refer landowners to our partners specializing in septic or farm animal best practices
  • Provide a host of septic resources through Clallam County’s Onsite Program

Of course, prevention is the best solution! By maintaining septic systems, cleaning up pet waste, using agricultural best management practices, and not feeding wildlife we can keep small problems from becoming big ones.

Who is involved with this project?

The PIC Project is a joint effort between Clallam County Environmental Health, Clallam Conservation District, Jamestown S'klallam Tribe and Streamkeepers of Clallam County.  Homeowners in affected areas are also a key contributor to the success of this project. Clallam County pristine coast image

Additional Information

The latest PIC Open House was held on June 23, 2017 with encouraging community involvement. On October 11, 2017 Clean Water Work Group and Dungeness River Management Team participants took a field trip to the project area to discuss progress.

Annual Trends Reports:

Current shellfish safety map with water quality classifications:

          https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/eh/maps/biotoxin/biotoxin.html

If you have any questions or comments regarding the PIC Program, please use the contact links below. We can make data available in Excel or other formats upon request.

Clallam County Health & Human Services
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