Event Title

The Clean Samish Initiative: Using PIC in a Large, Mixed-Use Watershed

Presentation Abstract

The Clean Samish Initiative (CSI) was established in 2009 as a collaborative effort to reduce fecal coliform pollution in the Samish watershed. It brought together local industries, private citizens, conservation groups, educational outreach organizations, tribes, local government and state and federal agencies to outline a strategy forward based on shared responsibilities. As part of this effort, Skagit County began implementing a Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) program in 2010 in the Samish basin. Over the last four years, some major headway has been made in curbing bacterial pollution sources, mainly from agriculture and on-site septic systems (OSS). Remaining portions of the Samish not part of the original Marine Recovery Areas were designated as such. This change brought an additional 900 OSS into the MRA system and subjected them to more stringent Health Department monitoring. In this predominantly agricultural watershed, a systematic evaluation of all non-timbered parcels led to over 5000 parcels being investigated to assess their potential to pollute. Property inspections on high priority properties as determined by land use and bracket monitoring were employed to isolate sources of fecal coliform bacteria. A continuous outreach and education presence in the basin through the local conservation district and fisheries enhancement group, neighborhood stewardship movements and various others have increased awareness of the extent of pollution and its many sources, disseminated knowledge on ways to protect waterways, and prompted landowners into taking voluntary steps to improve their properties and pasture conditions. With the technical assistance of the CD and numerous financial incentives, Samish basin residents have implemented over 100 structural BMPs ranging from fencing livestock out of water bodies, building manure storages, creating winter confinement areas for livestock, and installing off channel watering facilities. Despite these accomplishments, our monitoring suggests that more remains to be done to achieve the level of reduction in fecal coliform counts needed to upgrade shellfish beds and protect public health. In addition, identifying the programs and motivation needed to increase BMP implementation level has been a difficult challenge. The initial grant funding has however created a robust program and forged a needed cooperation between stakeholders that Skagit County can build upon to continue improving water quality.

Session Title

Session S-07C: Water Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Programs: Methods, Resources, and Success Stories

Conference Track

Water Quality

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2014 : Seattle, Wash.)

Document Type

Event

Start Date

1-5-2014 3:30 PM

End Date

1-5-2014 5:00 PM

Location

Room 606

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 1st, 3:30 PM May 1st, 5:00 PM

The Clean Samish Initiative: Using PIC in a Large, Mixed-Use Watershed

Room 606

The Clean Samish Initiative (CSI) was established in 2009 as a collaborative effort to reduce fecal coliform pollution in the Samish watershed. It brought together local industries, private citizens, conservation groups, educational outreach organizations, tribes, local government and state and federal agencies to outline a strategy forward based on shared responsibilities. As part of this effort, Skagit County began implementing a Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) program in 2010 in the Samish basin. Over the last four years, some major headway has been made in curbing bacterial pollution sources, mainly from agriculture and on-site septic systems (OSS). Remaining portions of the Samish not part of the original Marine Recovery Areas were designated as such. This change brought an additional 900 OSS into the MRA system and subjected them to more stringent Health Department monitoring. In this predominantly agricultural watershed, a systematic evaluation of all non-timbered parcels led to over 5000 parcels being investigated to assess their potential to pollute. Property inspections on high priority properties as determined by land use and bracket monitoring were employed to isolate sources of fecal coliform bacteria. A continuous outreach and education presence in the basin through the local conservation district and fisheries enhancement group, neighborhood stewardship movements and various others have increased awareness of the extent of pollution and its many sources, disseminated knowledge on ways to protect waterways, and prompted landowners into taking voluntary steps to improve their properties and pasture conditions. With the technical assistance of the CD and numerous financial incentives, Samish basin residents have implemented over 100 structural BMPs ranging from fencing livestock out of water bodies, building manure storages, creating winter confinement areas for livestock, and installing off channel watering facilities. Despite these accomplishments, our monitoring suggests that more remains to be done to achieve the level of reduction in fecal coliform counts needed to upgrade shellfish beds and protect public health. In addition, identifying the programs and motivation needed to increase BMP implementation level has been a difficult challenge. The initial grant funding has however created a robust program and forged a needed cooperation between stakeholders that Skagit County can build upon to continue improving water quality.