Big rains back on Feb 5th. How long will it take for local water quality to rebound?

Image above: Feb 21, 2020

Source: Washington State Department of Health Shellfish Safety Map


Bellingham 89,045 (2017)

Anacortes 16,953 (2017)

Oak Harbor 23,187 (2017)

Coupeville 1,928 (2017)

Looks like waters adjacent to Bellingham and Anacortes are less impacted by pollution than the waters between Oak Harbor and Coupeville.

We moved to Whidbey several years ago, after living in Jefferson County, where going out and getting a limit of clams was a happy routine/local thing. After arriving on Whidbey, a letter came in the mail from Island County describing the Penn Cove Watershed and the requirement to get home septic systems tested in this sensitive area. This was a chance to learn about the watershed and how to maintain a septic system.


WDFW says local beaches are closed to recreational shellfish harvest due to sewage treatment plant outfall.

If the press ever comes close to covering this topic, they will refer to stormwater.

Still haven’t been out to local beaches for clams.

Local people can learn about reducing the impact of stormwater and contribute by being more careful about using chemicals on their lawn, washing the car in the driveway, recycling motor oil, cleaning up after their dog, etc.

When the press ignores sewage treatment plant outfall people are left out on solutions to this problem.


I’m thinking of old traditions. Someone buys a fishing license and wants to take the grandkids out to teach them how to bring home a legal limit of clams. Buy a license, know the rules to maintain a sustainable harvest, check the tides and open seasons, and pick a good day.

The shellfish safety map is updated daily. Get up early and check the map to see if shellfish are safe to harvest at your favorite beach. Look for green colors on the map that show safe places for recreational shellfish harvest.

Bad news if you’re seeing brown colors instead of green. Even more bad news if the brown colors remain in place for months, as if this is a routine or ongoing condition.

Not seeing any green colors, even during the dry month of September:

Image above: Washington State Dept. of Health status updated Sept. 20th, 2019.

North side of Penn Cove at Monroe Landing

“This beach is within the closure area for a sewage treatment plant outfall and is unsafe for recreational shellfish harvesting.”

Source: WDFW

Is the sewage treatment plant sending unsafe product into Penn Cove?

Reporting on this topic appears to be completely off limits to the press.


We are told that stewardship is a priority:

Sign below educates the public on local waters.

Saratoga Passage Marine Stewardship Area

Let’s take a look at today’s another month with an R status:

Image above: Feb 21, 2020

Source: Washington State Department of Health Shellfish Safety Map

If we could walk from the north edge of the brown shaded area at Oak Harbor, down to the south edge, how long would it take to get there? That’s a pretty big area.

Better tell the grandkids that today isn’t the day to be getting out there.

Image above:

Another green color day over in Jefferson County

More here:

Site Visit – Captain Thomas Coupe Park

Monroe Landing – Site Visit

Green colors show safe places for recreational shellfish

More Than A Week Since The Big Rains

Saratoga Passage Marine Stewardship Area – Any News Coverage?

Ocean Water in Snohomish County?



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