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Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC)

What’s New with the PIC Program?

Latest PIC Project Update

The latest PIC Open House was scheduled for March 31, 2020 at the Sequim Prairie Grange. However, it was postponed until further notice due to COVID-19. In lieu of the meeting, an information letter was sent to PIC focus area Homeowners with a follow-up letter sent in July describing the project in more detail and presenting recent water quality data. That information is available in the most recent PIC Project Update.

Previous PIC Open House presentations are also available:

The PIC project was presented at the October 2020 Dungeness River Management Team meeting.  This October 14, 2020 PIC presentation looked at the history of the program, the current PIC project, and where PIC may go in the future.

Financial Assistance Available

Financial assistance is available to help qualifying homeowners repair or replace failing on-site septic systems. This assistance can come in the form of Craft 3 and USDA and low-interest loans or up to 75% cost share assistance through the Clallam Conservation District. See additional information provided on these programs in the link below.

Clallam County Environmental Health offers homeowners the opportunity to apply for a rebate/incentive to get either part or all of their inspection or locate costs covered. This program is funded through a National Estuary Program Shellfish grant, has finite funds, and adheres to a defined protocol that prioritizes applicant’s parcels. The rebate application period has been extended until May 31, 2021. Homeowners are encouraged to schedule and complete their inspections while these funds are available. Find more information at the link below.

What is the PIC Program? 

The Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program is designed to improve the water quality of Sequim and Dungeness Bays by investigating sources of bacterial pollution. Many of these pollutants are deposited in the bay by the rivers and streams of the Dungeness Watershed, which drains 215 square miles of the surrounding area. After narrowing the search down to the most impacted areas, sources of pollution are tracked down and cleaned up. The program was developed as a response to poor water quality and shellfish bed closures in Dungeness Bay.

PIC Fact Sheet

2015 PIC Pilot Project:

Lower Dungeness Water Quality

Map of PIC Pilot Project AreaIn 2014, the Clallam County Environmental Health, in partnership with the Clallam Conservation District, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe and public, developed a Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) plan to map out a strategy for identifying and correcting sources of water pollution. For more information on the public PIC planning process, visit the Clallam Conservation District PIC web page.

Implementation of a PIC pilot project began in summer 2015 in the lower Dungeness watershed, including the areas of Golden Sands Slough, Meadowbrook Slough, Meadowbrook Creek, and the Dungeness River. PIC work continues to show success and the project area will now expand to include waters further up the Dungeness into the Matriotti watershed.

The marine shoreline of the Lower Dungeness watershed has abundant shellfish beds that have been harvested and enjoyed for generations. This watershed and its freshwater tributaries (including Meadowbrook Creek, Golden Sands Slough, Meadowbrook Slough, Cooper Creek, and Dungeness River) also have a long history of fecal bacteria pollution dating back to the early 1990’s.  Because of this, the tidelands surrounding the mouth of the Dungeness River are closed to shellfish harvest year-round, and other areas are closed during winter months. Over the past 15 years water quality improvements have been made, leading to shellfish area upgrades, but there is more to do.

How do we investigate pollution levels?

The first step in our investigation is called “trends monitoring.” Water samples are collected near the mouths of major streams in the watershed to give us an idea of the water quality going into the bay. By looking at the data over time, we can identify areas that are consistently more polluted and need further investigation.

Polluted StreamTeams then work their way upstream collecting water samples to test for fecal coliform (FC) bacteria. Testing for FC is a quick, inexpensive and widely-accepted means to determine if pathogens from human and/or animal waste may be present in the water. When bacteria levels are high, people can get sick from swimming in the bay or eating shellfish harvested in the area.

Using this process of “segmented sampling” we can further narrow the search of pollution sources. At this point we contact owners of neighboring properties to discuss potential concerns, additional testing steps, and how they can help. In some instances, tracer dye testing is used to track the interaction of groundwater with creeks and sloughs in the project area.

Meadowbrook Slough Dye Testing Fact Sheet

For complete information on PIC methods:

Where we are currently focused:

Based on trends monitoring of the watershed, the Golden Sands Slough, Meadowbrook Slough, and Meadowbrook Creek were chosen as the focus area for the pilot phase of this project. The focus area for the next phase, or “Phase 1 implementation” was in the Lower Matriotti & Lotzgesell Creek area. We began our “Phase 2 Implementation” in late 2019, and the focus area is theUpper Matriotti Creek area and Bell Creek.2019 PIC Project Area Map

For maps of sampling sites and results from testing, see the following links:

Environmental Health, in coordination with PIC Partners, is studying parcel records, requesting site visits, conducting water quality sampling, and beginning to work with property owners to improve and protect water quality in the upper Matriotti/Bell Creek areas as impacts from COVID-19 allow. We are also continuing previous work in the greater PIC project area.

PIC Project Area Map

When Pollution is detected, what next?

Whether the problem stems from farm animal runoff, a faulty septic system, or another cause, we can advise homeowners on the steps they can take.  We can help:

  • Monitor water quality changes and report to the community
  • Inform property owners of financial and technical resources available including Craft 3 Clean Water Loans and Conservation District cost-share programs
  • Refer landowners to our partners specializing in septic or farm animal best practices
  • Provide a host of septic resources through Clallam County’s Onsite Program including the onsite inspection rebate program.

Of course, prevention is the best solution! We can keep small problems from becoming big ones by maintaining septic systems, cleaning up pet waste, using agricultural best management practices, and not feeding wildlife.

Who is involved with this project?

The PIC Project is a joint effort between Clallam County Environmental Health, Clallam Conservation District, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, and Streamkeepers of Clallam County.  Homeowners in affected areas are also key contributors to the success of this project.

Clallam County pristine coast imageAdditional Information

PIC Project Updates:

Annual Trends Reports:

Current shellfish safety map with water quality classifications:

          https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/eh/maps/biotoxin/biotoxin.html

If you have any questions or comments regarding the PIC Program, please use the contact links below. We can make data available in Excel or other formats upon request.

Contact the PIC Program to report suspected water pollution in the study area, sign-up for email project updates or with questions about the program using the PIC Program Email Form.

Clallam County Health & Human Services
PIC Email Form | Anonymous Email Form