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County says Liberty Bay is in good health

POULSBO — Kitsap Public Health announced a positive report on the health of Liberty Bay, right on the heels of the state Department of Ecology’s 2009 report that showed how far the bay has come.

The report was given to the Poulsbo City Council at Wednesday’s meeting.

Four years ago, Liberty Bay did not meet water quality standards, leading to it being designated a Marine Recovery Area. The bay’s shellfish were threatened and the Total Maximum Daily Load of bacteria was far too high. However, with a $500,000 grant from Ecology, Kitsap’s health district began the Pollution Identification and Correction Project.

Kimberly Jones, head of the project, said she was pleased to announce the bay met water quality standards last year, and it is well on its way to being recovered. The problem remains with the bay’s tributaries, particularly Dogfish Creek and Poulsbo Creek.

“What’s great about here in Kitsap is we’re really proactive,” Jones said.

Ecology and Kitsap Public Health were specifically looking for fecal coliform bacteria, which infect the bay in many ways — contaminated stormwater, faulty septic systems, livestock manure and even pet waste are common sources. Jones said since 2009, they have identified 20 “hot spots” around the bay with high levels of the bacteria, and 36 failed septic systems. The vast majority of problems have either been corrected or are in progress of being corrected.

All forms of contamination are able to be corrected through public outreach, Jones said, and she credited the city and Liberty Bay residents for their eagerness to fix the problems.

“We hope maybe one day it would be possible to harvest shellfish in the bay,” Jones said.

The health district will hold a public meeting on April 26 at the Poulsbo Fire Station, where they will give a workshop on strengthening the health of septic systems.

 

 

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