Five Kitsap streams taken off ‘health advisory’ list

Something’s wrong with Lofall Creek, which drains into Hood Canal from the Kitsap Peninsula.

How do I know this? Because the Kitsap County Health District noticed that it was becoming polluted a few years ago, thanks to monthly monitoring of about 60 streams — all the major ones throughout unincorporated Kitsap County.

Health authorities jumped on the problem and have identified some failing septic systems. They expect to find more. They’re hoping they get the troubled septic systems fixed soon. But, for now, the water quality is still growing worse.

Check out my story in today’s Kitsap Sun about the annual Water Quality Monitoring Report or download a copy of the report for yourself. The introduction contains a summary of all the streams.

On a positive note, five streams have improved enough to remove them from the ‘health advisory’ list. This is a list of streams that violate pollution standards in the summer months and are posted with signs telling people not to have contact with the water.

The Kitsap County Health District is focused mainly on bacterial pollution, but the program could be expanded to other toxics if money were available.

Many state officials recognize that this is the kind of program needed to attack pollution throughout Puget Sound. Widespread stream monitoring is likely to be one of the suggestions proposed by the Puget Sound Partnership so that everyone will know when and where problems arise.

4 thoughts on “Five Kitsap streams taken off ‘health advisory’ list

  1. What about the streams that are being put ON the list?

    A confusing example with Wilson Creek: we’ve been helping the county with water monitoring for years. A nearby neighbor happened to call the health district prior to clamming and was told the beach was unhealthy (?), but could not cite the exact reasons. So then we called and also got a confusing response, which led us to believe the data they were using was not current.

    Then about a month later we came home to see a sign posted on the beach warning not to collect shellfish until further notice. We called yet again and again no one seemed to know what data was used to make the determination or how recent it was. We then asked if someone could get back to us as to the details as perhaps we could help to mediate the issues.

    Two months later and no response–even after a second and third call.

    In wading through all this confusion, we further were surprised there is no process at the county where we could sign up for alerts that get “pushed” (perhaps through email) with some type of message as creek or shore health changes.

    It seems the public has to actively seek out the info (which they typically won’t, or don’t know how to go about doing so), or it’s simply not known.

    And as for us, with all the work our neighborhood’s been doing with Wilson Creek (which the county certainly knows about), you’d think we might be one of the early calls they’d make to help understand and deal with the problem. Instead, we STILL don’t know what’s going on…


  2. For the first time I have a positive comment to offer concerning the health department.

    Call them again and ask for:
    Siri Kushner, MPH
    Health Information Resources Program
    Kitsap County Health District
    345 6th Street, Suite 300
    Bremerton, WA 98337

    (360) 337-5233

    She is a whiz and will get the information you’re asking for…she did for me when I wanted to know about drownings over time in Kitsap County. (For the NK information)

    If she can’t help, she will know who can.
    I am still surprised by the fact the KC Health Depart. was not only willing to get the information – they were pleasant about it…AND returned my call.

    Dan..give them another chance.

    Call Siri Kushner…she made it clear the health dept wants to work with us…
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. The shellfish closure zone at the mouth of Wilson Creek was established by the State Department of Health based on two concerns. Their staff collected a water sample from the creek that contained relatively high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, and several septic systems were located close enough to the shoreline that they were considered potential pollution sources.

    Staff from the Kitsap County Health District post warning signs to inform residents when such a health advisory exists. I spoke with a local resident about these issues, and passed along the available information. If there are further questions or concerns, please either contact me at (360) 337-5622, or call the State Department of Health Office of Shellfish and Water Protection at (360) 236-3330.

    Best regards,
    Shawn Ultican

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