State study sets goals to clean up Dungeness Bay


Press release from WA State Dept. of Ecology

OLYMPIA, WA- A newly released study of Dungeness Bay published by the Department of Ecology (Ecology) recommends that the community's ongoing work to clean up bacteria in the bay be strengthened if shellfish beds are to be re-opened.

The "Dungeness Bay Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load Study" provides new details about how bacteria enter the bay.

For example, bacteria wash into the water from failing septic systems and from pet, livestock and wildlife manure. Storm water carries it into the river and bay.

People can get sick from eating bacteria-contaminated shellfish that are raised in the bay, or from swallowing contaminated water while swimming or wading.

The report's author, Debbie Sargeant, said the good news is that most of the sources of bacteria in Dungeness Bay, except for wildlife waste, can be controlled.

The report recommends that pollution be investigated and tracked to its sources; that pet and livestock waste be kept out of the water; that irrigation ditches be piped to keep out pollution and to conserve water; that stormwater discharges to the bay be eliminated, or treated to kill the bacteria; and that leaking septic systems be fixed.

The study will be paired with Ecology's previously completed freshwater study of Matriotti Creek and the Dungeness River. Together, the studies will be considered by local strategists to create workable, local solutions to clean the water and re-open the shellfish beds for harvesting, according to Chris Hempleman of Ecology's water-quality program.

"This community really came together to clean up Dungeness Bay after the shellfish closures began," said Hempleman. "They are now in good shape to move forward, integrating these study results into their clean-water strategy."


Ecology’s media contact: Sandy Howard, public information manager, 360-407-6239

Ecology's Dungeness Web site:

Department of Health's Web site for shellfish-bed closures:



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