Brown areas indicate where shellfish harvesting is closed due to pollution. (Screenshot from Washington Shellfish Safety Map)

Brown areas indicate where shellfish harvesting is closed due to pollution. (Screenshot from Washington Shellfish Safety Map)

DOH awards $5.5M to improve Puget Sound shellfish habitats

$455,000 was earmarked to improve the health of shellfish beds in Poverty Bay.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) awarded $5.5 million in funding to 11 proposed projects that aim to restore and protect shellfish habitats across Puget Sound, according to a Feb. 28 announcement.

According to the DOH, Washington state is the leading producer of farmed shellfish in the nation, and commercial shellfish is shipped around the world.

However, 16,000 acres of Puget Sound shellfish beds are currently closed to harvest due to nonpoint fecal pollution, such as water runoff from agricultural activities, pet waste, boater waste discharge, and onsite sewage systems. Proposals funded by this grant will work to find and fix nonpoint source pollution.

One of the proposals will go towards shellfish bed protection in King County’s WRIA 9 watershed, the area which drains into the Green and Duwamish Rivers and where the rivers empty into the Puget Sound.

The funding list which includes the project outlines $455,000 in partial funding with the intent to fund in full contingent on future funds available, up to $910,000.

The funding is outlined “to expand pollution identification and correction and onsite sewage system management in Poverty Bay Shellfish Protection District and Vashon Maury Island, which have high risk of fecal pollution impact on Puget Sound water quality and high potential to maintain and upgrade harvestable shellfish beds.”

The funding list describes that the primary objectives are to:

  • Expand source tracking and pollution identification to high-impact areas not yet surveyed in Massey Creek sub-Basin, in Des Moines as well as areas on Vashon Maury Island;
  • Continue freshwater monitoring in Poverty Bay, which is offshore from Federal Way and Des Moines, to support long-term water quality management and upgrades to harvesting areas;
  • Reach new audiences – property owners on sewer and inland Vashon residents, providing financial and technical assistance for inspections and repairs; strengthen partnerships with community-based organizations that serve disadvantaged communities;
  • Improve onsite sewage system inspection enforcement and prepare for sea level rise impacts by expanding the marine recovery area to all of Vashon Maury Island.

“Washington’s marine waters are a dynamic and vital part of our unique ecosystem,” said Todd Phillips, DOH Office of Environmental Health and Safety director. “We applaud the efforts of each award recipient for their role in water quality improvement and protection. Partnerships with these awardees, along with agencies such as the EPA, emphasize the commitment and importance of advancing our goal of reducing fecal coliform pollution and protecting Puget Sound shellfish growing areas, with the overarching objective of protecting public health.”

Awardees were chosen by DOH’s Shellfish Strategic Initiative Advisory Team using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Puget Sound Geographic Funds. The winners each submitted requests for proposals that focused on three key investment priorities: pollution identification and correction, onsite sewage system management, and/or livestock manure management.

DOH is responsible for the safety of commercially harvested shellfish in the state. For more information on current advisories, visit the Washington Shellfish Safety Map, which is updated daily.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Madeline Goldsmith. COURTESY PHOTO
No suspect yet in July 2023 Kent murder of Madeline Goldsmith

Someone fatally shot 18-year-old Kentwood High graduate as she sat in vehicle near Lake Meridian

Police bust mother, daughter in Kent for retail crime spree

Two reportedly joined one other woman in 3-state crime ring taking women’s clothing from Lululemon

Reith Road in Kent to get two new roundabouts this year

City Council approves $4.28 million bid; project to start in late May or early June

Puget Sound Fire’s Teddy Bear Clinic set for May 18 in Kent

Annual event provides free checkups for teddy bears and children

Overturned military vehicle causes I-5 backup near Kent, Federal Way

Wednesday, April 10 in northbound lanes near South 272nd Street

Kent Police Blotter: March 26 to April 7

Incidents include robberies, burglaries, shooting

State Patrol seek witnesses to I-5 hit-and-run crash in Kent

Collision at about 11:30 p.m. Monday, April 8 along northbound I-5 near State Route 516

Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent turns profit for 2nd consecutive year

City-owned facility brings in about $600,000 in 2023

Kent Police recovered nearly 800 catalytic converters in a 2021 bust. File photo
New state legislation fights catalytic converter theft

Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill on March 26 adding new regulations… Continue reading

Firefighting Diversity & Recruitment Workshop set for May 11 in Kent

Event designed to help potential candidates get jobs

Kentwood High grad’s legacy of love lives on through organ donation

Madeline Goldsmith one of 344 organ donors honored by Gov. Jay Inslee in Olympia

Flowers, framed photos, plush toys and a QR code to the GoFundMe pages of the families grace the memorial site after the March 19 crash. Photo by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing.
Judge, lawyers debate low bail for Kent driver in fatal Renton crash

Judge explains reduction from $1 million to $100,000, which was posted by family of Chase Jones