2022-2026 ACTION AGENDA EXPLORER

STRATEGY 9

Water Pollution Source Identification & Correction

Address fecal pollution and other cumulative water pollution impacts on Puget Sound through pollution identification and correction (PIC) programs and total maximum daily load (TMDL) plans.
Fecal coliform bacteria are a widely used indicator of the presence of other microorganisms that can cause disease. Contact with water or consumption of shellfish polluted with bacteria and viruses from fecal pollution can cause illness. In the Salish Sea ecosystem, fecal pollution comes from both point-source origins such as combined sewer overflows as well as non-point source origins such as surface water runoff or failing septic systems and from livestock, pets, and wildlife.

Pollution identification and correction (PIC) programs in Puget Sound are a key element in a strategy to help identify and correct sources of fecal pollution; however, these programs are frequently underfunded. Total maximum daily load (TMDL) plans set limits on the allowable levels of fecal coliform concentrations and specify how much pollution must be reduced or eliminated to achieve clean water.

Successful strategies will include both regulatory and voluntary efforts to identify and correct fecal pollution in Puget Sound. Ensuring compliance with existing regulations and providing incentives to motivate efforts to reduce fecal pollution and support local monitoring programs will be essential for strategy success.

Implementing the Shellfish and Marine Water Quality Implementation Strategies supports the success of this strategy.
DESIRED OUTCOMES
  • Reduce bacteria to protect shellfish beds
  • Reduce inequitable health outcomes
Actions

Fund, develop, and implement effective local and tribal nations pollution identification and correction (PIC) programs. (ID #9)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Generate adequate and sustainable funding to support long-term PIC programs;
  • Support focused community outreach and engagement;
  • Improve and provide regional support to build program capacity and effectiveness, and cross-program collaboration;
  • Promote onsite inspections incentives and installation of non-point source BMPs to reduce fecal runoff.

Support watershed cleanup implementation and the development of cleanup plans such as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and other strategies to limit fecal pollution. (ID #10)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Ensure cleanup plans identify pollution sources and outline strategies to protect and restore water bodies from the cumulative impacts of point and non-point sources;
  • Fund and support the implementation of TMDLs and cleanup plans;
  • Support focused community outreach and engagement;
  • Analyze the effectiveness of TMDLs;
  • Expand source measures and indicators needed.

Fund, develop, and implement programs to address fecal pollution from people experiencing homelessness or with inadequate access to sanitary services. (ID #156)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Develop a strategy to stop fecal pollution from encampments and residents living without adequate waste management;
  • Assess the near-term needs;
  • Provide adequate resources and facilities;
  • Prioritize locations that are in direct proximity to surface waters.

Support fishers, hikers, and other recreational users through outreach and education to understand and reduce the effects of human and pet waste on water quality. (ID #63)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Identify barriers to increasing access to facilities and resources (for example, waste receptacle);
  • Promote a regional focus to collaborations and find better channels for outreach and education;
  • Support community outreach and engagement programs;
  • Provide adequate facilities and resources.
Implementation Considerations

Human Wellbeing

     

Climate Change

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 to integrate human wellbeing considerations in efforts to address fecal pollution and other cumulative water pollution impacts include:

 

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 to integrate climate change responses in efforts to address fecal pollution and other cumulative water pollution impacts include:

  • Promote broad engagement among stakeholders and provide stable funding to develop PIC programs, integrate TMDLs, and reduce the financial and capacity burdens on smaller jurisdictions.
  • Develop environmental health disparities maps for communities and tribal nations to understand cumulative water pollution impacts throughout Puget Sound.
  • Assess regional inequities associated with toxics and water pollution to gauge inequitable distribution and prioritize areas of action.
  • Improve integration between regulatory agencies and landowners around pollution prevention programs.
  • Develop community resources through green infrastructure to support water quality and expand beyond PIC programs.
 
  • Incorporate climate impacts into TMDL studies and plans.
  • Recognize the value of long-term data collection, including inspection data, for incorporating climate effects into water quality studies.
Ongoing Programs

Ongoing programs provide regulatory oversight, technical support, implementation resources, funding, or guidance and serve as the critical foundation for Puget Sound recovery. The following is a list of example state and federal ongoing programs that help to implement this strategy. Many more local, tribal nations, and nongovernmental programs exist that support this strategy.

What We're Measuring

We are achieving our recovery goals of healthy human populations, healthy water quality, increasing functioning habitat, and thriving species and food web by ensuring that all onsite septic systems (OSS) are inventoried, inspected, maintained, and operational; reducing disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria and viruses in stormwater runoff from residential and commercial lands, agricultural land, and recreational and outdoor activities; ensuring that levels and patterns of contamination in fish and shellfish harvested from Puget Sound waters and levels and patterns of pollutants and biotoxins in surface waters do not threaten the health of Puget Sound communities or vulnerable populations. Indicators of success include:

Acres of working lands treated with Best Management Practices (BMPs), including riparian plantings
Percentage of fecal coliform issues corrected by PIC programs, sound-wide

This candidate progress indicator would track the total acres of working lands treated with water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs), including riparian plantings. This indicator is under development.

Acres of working lands treated with Best Management Practices (BMPs), including riparian plantings
By:

No reported data available

This candidate progress indicator would evaluate how well PIC programs are doing at correcting fecal coliform issues across the region. This indicator is under development.

Percentage of fecal coliform issues corrected by PIC programs, sound-wide
By:

No reported data available