Shellfish harvesting can resume on Vashon Island’s Spring Beach after a unified effort stopped pollution

Puget Sound and Vashon Island beaches are cleaner today thanks to an effort led by Public Health’s Environmental Health Services Division. 

The Washington State Department of Health has upgraded 57 acres of shellfish harvesting beds at the Spring Beach community of Vashon Island, the result of significant investments by property owners and years of extensive work to develop a wastewater treatment solution.

Spring Beach at Vashon Island. Photo by Meagan Jackson.

For decades, sewage from 12 homes in the Spring Beach community was flowing through a single discharge pipe directly into Puget Sound, polluting the water and causing health risks, and disrupting shellfish harvesting by Tribes that is protected by Treaty rights. 

Environmental Health Services staff coordinated a multi-department effort to work with the property owners to install individual on-site sewage systems and create a community on-site sewage system. 

“We knew that the property owners wanted to do the right thing to stop the pollution, but we needed to be creative in our approach to help them do it,” said Darrell A. Rodgers, Division Director in Environmental Health. “It was important that we came to them with solutions and resources to accomplish a shared goal, and we’re seeing the results of that joint effort today.”

Public Health coordinated with the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks’ Water and Land Resources Division and Wastewater Treatment Division as well as the Department of Local Services’ Roads Division.

After a resting period of 30 months allowing the viruses that contaminate shellfish to be cleared from shellfish tissues, the Washington State Department of Health’s Shellfish Program determined that it is safe for harvesting to resume.

 This effort is one among many to reduce pollution from wastewater and improve water quality in King County. Clean water prevents people from getting sick when we swim, go beachcombing, or eat shellfish at a local restaurant. Public Health, Dept. of Natural Resources, and Dept. of Local Services are collaborating on a pollution identification and correction approach partnering with community members to find how pollutants may enter our waterbodies and find solutions that protect public health and the environment. Find out more at