Water Quality Improvement Project
Liberty Bay Watershed:
Fecal Coliform


Liberty Bay, and several creeks that drain to it, are on the state's 2012 water quality assessment (also known as the 303[d] list) because they exceed the state fecal coliform standard. Fecal coliform bacteria are indicators of harmful bacteria and viruses that cause illnesses among swimmers and others who recreate on the water or consume shellfish. Creeks with too much bacteria include Dogfish; Poulsbo; Johnson; Daniels; Big Scandia; Little Scandia; and Bjorgen, among others.

Kitsap Conservation District and Kitsap Public Health provide technical assistance to property owners

As part of Kitsap Health’s Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) project for Liberty Bay, streams and marine waters are monitored monthly. Once sources of fecal pollution are identified, Kitsap Health staff work with property owners to develop a cleanup plan. Water quality problems that may relate to livestock management are referred to Kitsap Conservation District, which works with livestock owners to make sure manure is managed properly.

To make sure your livestock are not impacting surface waters, contact Kitsap Conservation District at 360-337-7171. If you have questions about your septic tank and inspections, please contact Kitsap Public Health dept at 360-337-5235.

Using fencing to prevent livestock access is an excellent way to protect water quality.

What state government is doing

Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) conducted a water quality improvement project in Liberty Bay, near Poulsbo, Washington, in Kitsap County. Required under the federal Clean Water Act the project, to develop a total maximum daily load (TMDL), includes a scientific study of how much fecal coliform bacteria is entering Liberty Bay from its major freshwater tributaries and storm drainages. The project also includes a plan, developed in partnership with Tribes, local agencies, and organizations, to clean up the sources of bacteria so that the bay and its tributaries will meet state water quality standards. The Liberty Bay Fecal Coliform Bacteria TMDL was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in October of 2013.

Water Quality Improvement Report Submittal – June 5, 2013

After addressing comments received during the public comment period, Ecology submitted the finalized water quality improvement report to EPA in June, 2013. EPA approved the report in October, 2013.

Public Meeting – March 21, 2013

A public meeting was held March 21 2013, at Poulsbo Fire Dept Community Hall, to receive comments on the draft Liberty Bay Bacteria TMDL. In attendance were representatives from the city of Poulsbo, Suquamish Tribe, Kitsap Conservation District, Kitsap Public Health District, Kitsap Surface and Stormwater Management, and the general public. The public comment period was held from March 15 to April 15, 2013.

Implementation Meeting - February 11, 2013

Several Liberty Bay streams have shown progress in meeting state water quality standards for bacteria. At this meeting at Poulsbo City Hall, Ecology reported improvements in Dogfish, Poulsbo, Big Scandia and Little Scandia creeks since TMDL monitoring was completed in 2009. Work by local government stormwater programs, Kitsap Health District (getting septic systems fixed) and Kitsap Conservation District (working with livestock owners) since 2009 has led to the improvements evident in Kitsap Health's Water Year 2012 water quality data.

Implementation Meeting - January 26, 2012

Citizens, Tribes and local and state agencies were invited to participate.

  • Liberty Bay Tributaries Fecal Coliform TMDL Technical Overview Presentation: Ecology provided results of monitoring 33 stream and stormwater discharges twice monthly during the year-long study to help local government prioritize cleanup actions. One creek not previously monitored by local programs carried the second highest load of bacteria to the bay. Kitsap Health followed up by adding 7 freshwater sites to its monitoring program and by working with landowners needing onsite system repairs.
  • Implementation: Kitsap Conservation District reviewed its technical assistance to landowners in the watershed with livestock to reduce bacteria inputs to streams and stormwater discharges.

Previous meeting

State and local organizations met May 19, 2011 in Poulsbo to learn about the Liberty Bay study and cleanup plan. The city of Poulsbo; Kitsap County; Suquamish Tribe; representatives of the U.S. Navy at Keyport; Puget Sound Restoration Fund; and others met to hear about the Ecology study and begin planning the actions needed to get to clean water. Presentations included:

What citizens and students can do

Ecology monitoring data for 2008-2009

Ecology completed a year’s-worth of regular water quality sampling in August 2009. Preliminary reports summarizing the bacteria data collected so far:

Technical information

Unless otherwise specified, the following documents are Ecology publications.

Liberty Bay Watershed Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load: TMDL and Water Quality Implementation Plan - Final

Liberty Bay Tributaries Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load: Water Quality Study Design (Quality Assurance Project Plan)

Related information





Last updated July 2016


WRIA: #15 (Kitsap)
County: Kitsap

Water-body Names:
Liberty Bay
Dogfish Creek
Johnson Creek
Daniels Creek
Big Scandia Creek
Little Scandia Creek
Bjorgen Creek

Fecal Coliform

# of TMDLs: 7

TMDL approved by EPA
Has implementation plan

Contact Info:
Danielle DeVoe
Phone: 425-649-7036
Email: Danielle.DeVoe@ecy.wa.gov

Northwest Region
Department of Ecology
3190 160th Avenue SE
Bellevue, WA 98008-5452