Swimming Beaches
Every year, some of our public beaches are unsafe for swimming and must be closed because the water quality does not meet federal criteria for recreational swimming.
Indicator lead: Debby Sargeant, Washington State Department of Ecology
Data last updated onAugust 26, 2014
Photo Credit: Lisa Voigt Garms

Importance to Puget Sound Recovery

On a warm day, the waters of Puget Sound present an alluring invitation to wade, swim, or SCUBA dive. Although many of our beaches meet high standards for water quality, every year beaches are closed to the public because of high bacteria counts.

In 2011, one quarter of our monitored beaches were unsafe for swimming because they failed to meet water quality standards. Swimming in contaminated waters can result in a variety of illnesses and other unpleasant outcomes.
As our region grows in population, we can expect both an increase in the demand for recreational swimming opportunities, and in the sources of contamination from wastewater and stormwater runoff.

Clean water, free of harmful bacteria or chemicals, is an important goal in our efforts to restore and protect Puget Sound. We want the water to be as clean as possible so that we can enjoy the Sound without worrying about our health.

What You Can Do

  1. Inspect and maintain your on-site sewage system – see Septic System Care at Puget Sound Starts Here (http://www.pugetsoundstartshere.org/category/how-to-help/).
  2. Pick up dog poop (http://www.scooppoop.org/) and put it in the trash.
  3. Volunteer in your area (http://pugetsoundstartshere.org/in-your-local-area/get-involved/) to work with a group helping to reduce fresh water pollution.
  4. Use porta potties (http://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/PublicWorksCleanWater/DogCleanUp.htm) when near rivers.
  5. Manage manure: Collect, cover and compost. If you keep livestock, follow manure management practices. Your local Conservation District (http://scc.wa.gov/contacts/conservation-districts/) can provide you free technical assistance and will work with property owners to develop a waste management plan.
  6. Plant and maintain native vegetation around your property. For more information on native plants, visit the Dept. of Ecology's website (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/pugetsound/species/native.html) or the  Washington Native Plant Society (http://www.wnps.org/index.html).
  7. DON’T FEED WILDLIFE it encourages populations of wildlife to congregate in an area possibly causing a fecal problems. 
Links for more information on what you can do

What Our Partners Are Doing

View Near Term Actions helping to advance this Vital Sign

Links For More Information

Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication & Health Program

Quality assurance plan for the BEACH program

Results Washington Swimming Beaches goal