Image above: 2/17/2021

Source: Washington State Department of Health Shellfish Safety Map

Click image to enlarge.

Several Whidbey beaches remain closed all year long for recreational shellfish harvest because of sewage treatment outfall.

Sewage treatment outfall. Not stormwater.

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

View the Washington State Department of Health beach list here.


In the news:

Feb 16, 2021 Whidbey News-Times

Small fish, big barriers: A county confronts climate change

“…workers are putting the finishing touches on Oak Harbor’s most expensive investment ever, a $150 million state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility. Mayor Robert Severns takes pride in the purity of the water that the plant releases into Puget Sound.”

“Our citizens are paying higher rates as a result of that. It saves shellfish and salmon,” he said.


Jan 22, 2021 Whidbey News-Times

Town mayor updates residents with annual address

This coming year is all about stormwater,” Hughes said.

“A big rainstorm in February 2020 sent “hundreds of gallons” of water rushing through the sewer plant.”

“The mayor shared that the wastewater treatment plant operators received an award from the Department of Ecology for outstanding performance.”

We always want to do as much as we can to protect the Cove,” Hughes said.


Oak Harbor

November 6, 2020 Whidbey News-Times

Sound Off | Negotiations with Navy over connecting to sewer have ceased

“This facility is built to last the next 50 years while putting high-quality water back into the Puget Sound.”

“The high cost of this facility comes from the Washington State Department of Ecology and its requirement regarding the removal of nutrients to stringent levels in order to protect endangered marine life in our Puget Sound.”


Oak Harbor City Park

“Clams, mussels and oysters CLOSED year-round.”

“Washington Department of Health (DOH) cautions that clams, oysters, and mussels from this beach are not fit for human consumption at any time.”

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

Source: WDFW


Penn Cove

Coupeville – just west of Captain Thomas Coupe Park

“Clams, mussels and oysters CLOSED year-round.”

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

Source: WDFW


North side of Penn Cove at Monroe Landing

“Clams, mussels and oysters CLOSED year-round.”

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

Source: WDFW


Questions for newspeople:

Mayor Hughes,

Can you help us to understand how/why stormwater is routed to the facility that treats water from toilet flushing?

In both Anacortes and Oak Harbor, we are told that stormwater is separate from what is treated at the plant.

City of Anacortes:

Storm drains discharge directly into the surrounding waters, they do not lead to the wastewater treatment plant.”

City of Oak Harbor:

Storm Drain

This “surface” water is separate from that which enters the sanitary sewer and is treated by the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.”


Living on an Island near Puget Sound, there seems to be great concern for salmon, orca, eagles, recreational shellfish and clean water.

Maybe the press should be better about asking questions if they are going to line up for federal bailout cash.

Has anyone ever seen the Puget Sound area press ask questions about Whidbey water quality impacted by sewage treatment plant outfalls?

Has anyone ever seen any government agency, elected official or volunteer organization seeking answers related to one or more sewage treatment plants sending unsafe product into the waters near Whidbey Island?

A photo tour of Penn Cove here:

Wastewater Treatment Plant – Department of Ecology Award For Outstanding Performance


Distance learning idea:

Podcast 4 Another Month With An R – Whidbey Sewage Treatment Plant Outfalls

Whidbey Waters – Mixed Signals of Concern


March 13, 2020 Whidbey News-Times

4th grade students publish book on Salish Sea

“Invisible Pollution in the Salish Sea”

School teachers,

Are you teaching your students to look for green colors on the Recreational Shellfish Safety Map?




Stormwater, Untreated Sewage and Puget Sound

Anacortes – Stormwater is Rainwater

Various Versions of Hometown Pride

High Quality Water For Puget Sound? – Recreational Shellfish Harvesting CLOSED Year-Round

Not Climate Change

Whidbey Island Toilet Flush or Rain Water?

“…talking to officials at the Town of Coupeville…”

Whidbey Signs of Water Quality

Whidbey Earth Day

When Things Get Back To Normal


The Press

Ready To Purchase A Subscription – Whidbey Water Quality

I will purchase a subscription to any Puget Sound area newspaper working to inform us on Whidbey water quality impacted by sewage treatment plant outfalls.

Ready to Support Local News on Whidbey Island

Both Whidbey papers have stripped away all comments from past articles, and removed the opportunity to post comments to new articles.

I’d be more interested in paying (again) for a local paper subscription if there was more in the way of newspeople asking questions.

Elimination of reader comments works against the idea of paying for an online subscription.

Manage it, don’t ban it. Online comment sections


Podcast 8 Senator Cantwell and the local press

The Press Is Weak – Newspaper Revenue Down Compared To 20 Years Ago

Press might need less bailout cash if it was more in the habit of asking questions

4 Stories The Puget Sound Press Will Not Question Or Report On


JFK speaks about the role of the press in a free society:


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