Water Quality Improvement Project
Dungeness Area:
Fecal Coliform Bacteria


© Soundview Aerial Photography.



The Dungeness River flows out of the Olympic Mountains into Dungeness Bay. Located at the north end of the Olympic Peninsula, the area’s natural beauty and quality of life have attracted many newcomers during the last decade. Much of that growth happened in the lower river valley, in the rural, unincorporated areas of Clallam County. (See Study Area Map)

Water quality issues

The population growth is impacting water quality. Numerous on-site septic systems, some of which are failing or improperly maintained; a proliferation of hobby farms where management practices may be less that optimal; and accumulated waste from many pets are contributing to increasing fecal coliform bacteria levels in local water bodies. Johnson, Bell, Cassalery, Matriotti, and Bagley Creeks have been placed on the state’s Water Quality Assessment (303[d]) List of impaired waters due to unacceptable levels of fecal coliform. In 2000, Washington Department of Health closed some areas of Dungeness Bay to shellfish harvest, also due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. The closure area was expanded in 2001, and again in 2003.


Status of the project

In June 2002 Ecology submitted a water quality improvement report, also known as a total maximum daily load (TMDL), to EPA for approval. The TMDL included the results and recommendations of a technical study done on the water in the watershed, and an implementation strategy that briefly outlined how the recommendations would be addressed. EPA approved the TMDL in July 2002.

There is a strong local commitment to recovering and protecting water quality in the Dungeness watershed, and a variety of activities are ongoing or planned to deal with the water quality issues.

Why this matters

Fecal coliform is a type of “bacteria” common in human and animal waste. It can make people sick and cause the closure of shellfish harvesting beds. Bacteria can get into our waters from untreated or partially treated discharges from wastewater treatment plants, from improperly functioning septic systems, and from livestock, pets and wildlife.

People can help keep bacteria out of the water. Properly collect, bag, and trash dog poop. Check your on-site sewage system to make sure it is maintained and working properly.

Technical information

Unless otherwise specified the following documents are Ecology publications.

Water Cleanup Plan for Bacteria in Lower Dungeness Watershed (TMDL Submittal Report)

Clean Water Strategy/Detailed Implementation Plan

Quality Assurance Project Plan: Dungeness River/Matriotti Creek Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load Study

Dungeness River Basin Fecal Coliform Bacteria TMDL Study

Water Cleanup Plan for Bacteria in Dungeness Bay

Dungeness Bay Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load Study

Dungeness River and Matriotti Creek Post-Total Maximum Daily Load Data Review

Report on Implementation of the Dungeness Bay/Matriotti Creek Clean Water Strategy and Detailed Implementation Plan - April 2007 (PDF)

Dungeness Bay and Lower Dungeness River Watershed FC Bacteria TMDL Effectiveness Monitoring

Quality Assurance Project Plan: Fecal Coliform Monitoring of Freshwater Seeps and Ditches along Inner Dungeness Bay

Dungeness Bay and Dungeness River Watershed Fecal Coliform Total Maximum Daily Load: Water Quality Effectiveness Monitoring Report

Monitoring Report of Fecal Coliform Concentrations in Freshwater Seeps and Ditches along Inner Dungeness Bay

Related information


Last updated October 2016


WRIA: #18 (Elwha-Dungeness)
County: Clallam County

Waterbody Names:
Dungeness River
Matriotti Creek

Fecal coliform bacteria

# of TMDLs: 7

TMDL approved by EPA

Contact Info:
Andrew Kolosseus
Phone: 360-407-7543
Email: Andrew.Kolosseus@ecy.wa.gov

Southwest Region
Department of Ecology
PO Box 47775
Olympia, WA 98504-7775