Stillaguamish River Clean Water District

In 1993, the Snohomish County Council created the Stillaguamish River Clean Water District to “provide a comprehensive approach to managing and regulating surface water in order to respect and preserve the county’s rivers, streams, lakes, and other waterbodies” (SCC 25A.05). 

The main aspects include:
  • Landowners within the Clean Water District pay fees that enable the county to provide water quality and water quantity management services in the Stillaguamish River Basin.
  • The Clean Water District Advisory Board, comprised of local landowners, agencies, and businesses, was created to guide the spending of Clean Water District revenues. The advisory board provides recommendations to the County and partner organizations working on water quality, water quantity, and aquatic habitat issues within the Stillaguamish River watershed. Meetings are open to the public. View more information about the Advisory Board.
  • Snohomish County uses district revenues to provide numerous surface water services to landowners within the Clean Water District. These public services include: technical and financial assistance to landowners, shellfish protection efforts, water quality monitoring and pollution control, drainage and flooding assistance, and salmon recovery projects.
Water Quality Problems
In 1987, the Washington Department of Health closed 18,000 acres of tidelands in South Skagit Bay and Port Susan to commercial shellfish harvest due to fecal bacteria pollution from the Stillaguamish River. The Stillaguamish River and many of its tributary streams exceed the bacterial pollution standards for recreational water uses. That means it can be unsafe for you, your family members, and your pets to come in contact with these waters.

Sources of fecal bacteria pollution include human sanitary waste, livestock, pets, and wildlife. Snohomish County has initiated the Stillaguamish Microbial Water Quality Assessment program with the goal of identifying and removing fecal pollution sources in high priority stream 

Good News
On-the-ground projects have helped improve water quality, allowing commercial shellfish harvest to be re-opened in Port Susan and South Skagit Bay. Wastewater treatment plant upgrades, dairy waste management, and septic system maintenance are having a positive impact.

In 2009, the South Skagit Bay commercial shellfish harvest area was expanded to 2,200 acres. In 2010, the Port Susan commercial shellfish harvest area was re-opened for 1,800 acres. The challenge now is to protect these water quality improvements for shellfish harvest and continue to clean up the streams and river reaches that are impaired for recreational use.

Helpful Resources