Improve Water Quality

Clean Water = Oyster-Give-Away

The Oyster-Give-Away Program aims to address excess nutrient input and pollution that affects shoreline health and local harvest. People contribute more nutrients than most marine systems can handle, which leads to excess algae growth, oxygen depletion and habitat loss. Ensuring your on-site septic system (OSS) is handling waste properly is an easy way to help maintain the heath of Puget Sound. The primary goal of the Community Shellfish Farms (CSFs) is to focus community attention on the connection between clean water and healthy shellfish resources.  Therefore, we want to encourage and reward responsible OSS owners who live near our CSFs.  Residence in the Henderson Inlet and Nisqually Reach Shellfish Protection District are automatically enrolled in Thurston County’s Septic System Operation & Maintenance Program. We’re also asking residents of Bainbridge Island to have their septic systems inspected and maintained. To say THANK YOU to OSS owners in these areas, we will salute them for helping to improve local marine waters with a dozen FREE Oysters from their local CSF (the Port Madison Community Shellfish Farm (PMCSF) for Bainbridge Island residents and the Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm for folks in the Thurston County Shellfish Protection Districts).

If interested, you’ll need a copy of your inspection certificate or pump-out receipt to receive your free oysters. Check out how to take advantage of the Clean Water = Oyster-Give-Away and pick up your free oysters from your local Community Shellfish Farms:

If it’s on the Ground, it’s in the water!

Water quality plays an important role in the health of our aquatic ecosystems and our ability to enjoy our marine resources.  With our effective storm drainage systems, stormwater runoff quickly and directly washes into our waterways carrying with it anything in its path including pet waste, trash, fertilizer, and pollutants. Fish, clams, oysters, crab, and other critters swim and eat in these waters, and so do we!  The good news is that we can all make simple adjustments in our lives to reduce the amount of pollution that ends up in our waterways.  When we keep our waterways healthy, we keep ourselves healthy.

Here’s How

Pick up Pet Waste- Scoop it, Bag it, and Put it in the Trash!

  • Pet waste is raw sewage and should be treated as such! When it rains, harmful pathogens travel across lawns, sidewalks, and streets into storm water drains and eventually into Puget Sound degrading our water quality and potentially contaminating shellfish. Much of this pet waste problem can simply be addressed in our own back yards by regularly picking up after our own four-legged friends.

Regularly Inspect and Maintain Septic Systems

  • Septic systems that leak sewage can contaminate our waterways with disease-causing pathogens and viruses.  And, like pet waste, sewage adds excessive nutrients to aquatic ecosystems which can spur algal growth and deplete the oxygen that fish and shellfish depend on.  Most septic systems should be inspected once a year and tanks should be pumped every three to five years depending on size and usage.

Garden Wisely

Herbicides and pesticides are made to kill and that‘s exactly what they do when they get washed into our waterways.  Even fertilizers which contain phosphates and nitrates have a negative effect on aquatic plants and animals. Try to avoid using these products, but if you have to, use them sparingly or find natural alternatives like compost.  You can also plant native species, which are often more resilient to pests and disease and require much less maintenance overall.

More Steps You Can Take  


Additional Resources