Year in Review 2018: Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District

By Kate Kimber Rice, county water quality planner

The Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District (DHSPD) was formed in 1995 by the Whatcom County Council in response to the Washington State Department of Health’s closure of shellfish harvesting areas due to poor water quality. The purpose of a shellfish protection district is to develop and implement a water quality improvement strategy to address sources of pollution and restore the area for shellfish harvesting.

Fecal coliform bacteria pollution is the primary concern in shellfish harvesting areas because it indicates that pathogens may be in the water, making shellfish unsafe to eat. Fecal coliform bacteria pollution comes from improperly managed human and animal waste.

December 1 marked the two-year anniversary of harvesting restrictions having been lifted on 810 acres of shellfish growing area in Drayton Harbor. The community came together to celebrate this anniversary for the third annual “Drayton Harbor Shell-ebration” on December 14. The event included honoring the 2018 Drayton Harbor Watershed Steward award winners.

These awards are given to community members who have shown outstanding dedication to improving water quality in Drayton Harbor. Rick Beauregard, a DHSPD advisory committee member, helped with award nominations and distribution. Other DHSPD advisory committee members Steve Seymour and George Kaas served up delicious oysters to the community during the event.

If you or someone you know is interested in serving on the Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District advisory committee, there are currently two vacancies that need to be filled. This commitment includes attending quarterly meetings in which members provide guidance on watershed improvement work. In 2018, some of this work included:

Additional marine water quality sampling during the fall and winter with help from the port. Development of a Wildlife Tracker phone application by the Whatcom Conservation District. Implementation of a new Small Farm Improvement Rebate program in addition to the well-established Septic Maintenance Rebate Program. Completion of three small farm cost-share projects.

In 2018, 81 percent of routine monitoring sites in the Drayton Harbor watershed had improved water quality. The community has continued to show their dedication to clean water by taking action, proving that fecal coliform pollution prevention does work to improve water quality. For more information visit:

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