This year the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing required field inspections take place with a different protocol to keep staff safe. Despite this additional challenge and the vast number of facilities to inventory, staff completed inspections on all 511 river facilities in one year – an activity normally done over a two-year cycle.
The 2019-2020 flood season was one for the record books. The first flood event took place on the Snoqualmie River in October 2019 and the season concluded with a total of seven flood events having occurred in King County by the end of February 2020.
Damage was found on 136 facilities and plans for emergency repairs or longer-term improvements to remedy the damage are underway. This assessment and planning is critical in order to prepare for another flood season which began on October 1 of this year.
The flooding was due to extensive rain throughout western Washington. Average monthly rainfall totals throughout the region in December 2019, January and February were far greater than normal. After the widespread flood in February that received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration, conducting post-flood inspections and triaging damage to river facilities was a high priority for the King County Flood Control District (Flood District).
River facilities, such as leveesand revetments, play an important role in protecting people, neighborhoods and infrastructure against damage from erosion and flooding. The King County Water and Land Resources Division, as the primary service provider to the District, maintains more than 370 revetments and 130 levees across six river basins from the South Fork of the Skykomish River in the north to the White River in the south on the border with Pierce County.
Each river facility is scheduled for inspection on a two-year cycle to look for any damage that could weaken its effectiveness. Inspections largely take place in the spring and summer or after a flood event and involve trained staff making careful observations of the riverbank facilities as well as floating the river in boats to identify potential problems.
Everyone in King County is encouraged to be flood ready. Information on what to do before, during and after a flood is available at kingcounty.gov/prepareforflooding.
About the King County Flood Control District
The King County Flood Control District is a special purpose government created to provide funding and policy oversight for flood protection projects and programs in King County. The Flood Control District’s Board is composed of the members of the King County Council. The Water and Land Resources Division of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks develops and implements the approved flood protection projects and programs.
About the King County Water and Land Resources Division
The Water and Land Resources Division works to protect the health and integrity of King County’s natural resources. Employees work to reduce flood risks, monitor water quality and restore wildlife habitat; manage, and reduce the harmful impacts from stormwater, noxious weeds and hazardous waste; create sustainable forestry and agriculture; and protect open space to support all of these efforts.
On any given day, the people in the Water and Land Resources Division are working on everything from the broadest of environmental issues of our landscape, to the microscopic work that takes place in our lab to provide one of the most crucial assets in our field – data. From stewarding the region’s expansive forests, to measuring organisms that are invisible to the naked eye in our waterbodies, there is no job too big or too small for us to take on to help ensure clean water and healthy habitat in King County.
“The Water and Land Resources Division carries out a very diverse mission. Using nearly a dozen different funding sources, we provide the science and the technical expertise to support residents and decision makers in their stewardship of our natural resources. Like our sister divisions that serve as wastewater and solid waste utilities, we are, in essence, a watershed utility.”
Josh Baldi, WLRD director
A significant proportion of our workforce spend their days in the field monitoring the effectiveness of our projects and programs; preventing or eradicating threats to our environment; building or repairing critical infrastructure that is unseen by the casual observer; meeting with residents to provide technical assistance for their land or business; and protecting or restoring the habitat that the region’s native species rely on.
When the COVID-19 emergency hit, WLRD staff quickly adopted new safety practices for field and lab work and deployed new online tools for public engagement and partner meetings to continue delivering essential services to our customers safely and without interruption.
Under the microscope, behind the data
The King County Environmental Laboratory was already well into a major construction project to replace critical infrastructure – fume hoods and heating systems – when the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic fully hit. Employees at the lab acted quickly to continue essential sample analysis required for public health, water quality permit compliance, public swimming beach monitoring, and support for the Solid Waste and Wastewater Treatment divisions.
Workflows drastically changed to maximize teleworking; moving from paperwork to digital platforms and ensuring safe distancing for in-person work at the laboratory. Communication with our customers and the public never slowed, and County programs continued providing essential services. (Check out, The King County Environmental Lab: Resilience and Adaptation Under Pressure.)
Teams of WLRD scientists adapted monitoring practices to ensure the safety of field staff by adjusting for social distancing, wearing masks, and conducting training and planning sessions outdoors or by teleconference.
WLRD’s scientists continued their collaborative work with Public Health – Seattle & King County to monitor the health and public safety of swimming beaches; generated new research about threatened juvenile Chinook salmon in the Snoqualmie River; continued their groundbreaking work to preserve imperiled Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon by partnering with a private hatchery on Orcas Island; and promoted and coordinated best practices for managing beavers.
Responding to multiple disasters
In early 2020, before COVID was a household word, King County responded to the most severe flooding in decades which led to a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration, the 13th declaration of this kind since 1990.
Due to the severity of the flooding countywide in January and February, damage inspection of all 511 levees and revetments – normally done biannually – was accelerated and completed by October to quickly schedule any needed repairs. Levees and revetments are essential facilities that help to reduce flood and erosion risks to life and safety, homes, roads and farms and other businesses.
In 2020, six repair projects and seven flood-risk reduction projects were completed across six river basins. The Flood Warning Center, now in its 60th year, restructured operations to ensure continuity in delivering critical flood information to agencies and residents while adhering to social distancing guidelines brought about by COVID-19. A new Countywide Capital Team was created to expand capacity for responding to urgent river facility repairs. WLRD is the primary contracted service provider to the King County Flood Control District for flood warning, facility inspection and repair, and flood hazard management capital projects.
New programs and pandemic support
King County launched the nation’s first County-led Forest Carbon Program, to sell carbon sequestration credits. The revenue supports the King County Land Conservation Initiative and provides incentives for preserving and enhancing privately owned and managed forests. The program received an award from the National Association of Counties for innovation in sustainability.
Forest restoration projects that improve forest health and enhance opportunities to sequester carbon have increased and directly contributed to the success of planting 1 Million Trees with partners across King County.
WLRD’s leadership through the King County Farmland Preservation Program over the past 40 years has kept nearly 16,000 acres of the best farmland available for production. Focused on equitable outcomes, the program also ensures land access is available to underserved communities and new farmers.
King County’s farming industry was hit hard by COVID-19. Our agriculture team responded by helping launch the Local Food Finder map, connecting consumers directly with farmers when farmers markets and restaurants closed or reduced service early in the pandemic. The ag team also supported the distribution of $1.4 million in federal CARES Act funding to support farmers, farmers markets, food banks and senior centers.
Clean water, healthy habitat
Water and Land staff are part of the regional Hazardous Waste Management Program to reduce exposure to hazardous materials and prevent toxic compounds from entering the environment. All prevention services were shifted to online and phone-only services. Vouchers were offered for hazardous materials management and personal protective equipment was distributed. A new website increased access to information about natural yard care, safe disposal of hazardous materials, and water quality protection by offering this information in 13 languages. The “Guilt Free KC” and “Ojo con el Cloro” (“Careful with Bleach”) campaigns promoted safe hazardous waste disposal and safer cleaning practices to protect human health and the environment – especially relevant as people turned to harsh chemicals like bleach to rid their homes of germs during the pandemic.
Landward, the Noxious Weed Control Program developed new field safety protocols to keep employees safe as they continued to control noxious weeds to protect people and the environment. Priority was given to high-risk infestation control that put people and critical resources in danger, and to property owners highly impacted by noxious weeds. Despite challenges, knotweed control was maintained on the Cedar, upper Snoqualmie, Skykomish, middle and lower Green rivers, and Soos Creek. In all, specialists surveyed more than 8,000 infestations of regulated noxious weeds, 86 percent of which were controlled.
The Noxious Weed Program’s Healthy Lands Project (HeLP) carried out weed control on more than 20 new public and private open space parcels, improving public benefits and supporting green jobs on nearly 70 acres. HeLP supported the new North Highline open space property purchased by King County Parks through a new match-waiver program that increases open space for underserved communities.
Adjusting to the world of on-line presentations, staff competed for state-managed grants for Floodplains by Design and Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration dollars and received number-one rankings in both highly competitive programs for construction of the Fall City Floodplain Restoration Project to restore 145 acres of floodplain process and reduce 100-year flood elevations on over 300 acres of Snoqualmie River habitat. The grants would put the division in position to construct the roughly $15 million project in 2022.
Managing stormwater is another key component to protecting water quality. In 2020, significant steps were taken toward developing a Green Stormwater Infrastructure incentive program within unincorporated King County. Additionally, the Our Green Duwamish coalition used innovative tools to engage partners watershed planning efforts for increased clean water.
Stormwater management includes moving runoff through a system of pipes and culverts, many of which are known barriers to fish passage that hamper efforts to restore weak fish populations. Removing these barriers is one of the most effective ways to quickly restore salmon habitat access. King County Fish Passage Restoration Program employees spent 2020 in the field creating an inventory of these barriers around the county.
As of November, the field crew had completed 1,438 site visits in 2020, reaching a total of 2,851 site visits since spring 2019,and identifying almost 800 fish passage barriers at County assets. The next step is to determine how removing these barriers will be prioritized to help the most fish get to the best habitat as soon as possible.
The above video shows chum spawning inside the new Green River Road box culvert into Mary Olson Creek near Auburn. The use of the culvert by fish so soon after construction was completed, shows the success of the design and construction of the project by the King County Roads Division.
Supporting and protecting King County’s watersheds ranges from creating expansive, multi-generation visions for our work, to monitoring the smallest organisms and connecting their health to ours. It is work done in the field, in the lab, and now via online video calls. All of it is done with respect to the safety of our employees and the commitment to our work.
Between Seattle and Auburn, drivers cross over countless creeks and rivers. Each fall, salmon and steelhead swim a similar journey from Puget Sound, up the Duwamish River leading to the Green River, and into many tributary streams around Auburn. These creeks are vital habitat for salmon. Streams provide areas for salmon to reproduce, hatch, and grow, so young salmon are plentiful and healthy when they enter the ocean.
After leaving local waterways, salmon and steelhead spend several years in the Pacific Ocean before returning to King County waterways to repeat the cycle.
Just like people rely on roads to cross over creeks as they move throughout the region, salmon and steelhead rely on barrier-free creeks flowing under roads to reach vital upstream habitats.
This summer, King County Roads replaced a culvert carrying Mary Olson Creek under Green River Road near Kent. This project ensured that the road crossing the creek is up to current standards and restores fish passage to Mary Olson Creek. Prior to the project, a metal pipe or “culvert” carried the creek under the road. This culvert was old and in poor condition. It was also too small and steep for most fish to swim through and blocked salmon from migrating upstream of the road.
The new creek crossing uses a box culvert that is wide and deep enough to make sure that the creek under the road is “passable” for all species of fish, including salmon and steelhead. This work opens up more than 2,000 feet of stream habitat to full access by salmon and steelhead.
The county completed construction of the new culvert in late August and this fall, the county will plant some trees and shrubs along the creek channel to improve habitat conditions. The project, which cost about $900,000, provides a road crossing that benefits all, whether they are people travelling on the road or fish swimming in the creek.
UPDATE: This video, taken Nov. 18, 2020, shows chum spawning inside the new Green River Road box culvert into Mary Olson Creek near Auburn. The use of the culvert by fish so soon after construction was completed, shows the success of the design and construction of the project by the King County Roads Division.
What does it take to be a Noxious Weed Control Specialist with King County? Prior to the pandemic and public health social distancing measures, author Gavin Tiemeyer spent the day on the Cedar River with Sayward Glise and Matthew Martin in order to find out. The short answer: knowledge, a sharp eye, a good attitude, and a trusty pair of blue work overalls.
It was 9 a.m. on a sunny morning near an area along the Cedar River known as Byer’s Curve in unincorporated King County. At first glance, what appears to be a nondescript green-space, nestled between two residential properties, is actually a bustling riparian ecosystem with plants and animals competing for sunlight and water.
This is where the noxious weed control specialists will search for — and try to eliminate — knotweed and garlic mustard, two tenacious invasive species of plant that, left unchecked, can wreak havoc on the river’s ecosystem.
“Knotweed is one of the most aggressive invasive species in North America, and it loves our rivers,” Sayward explained. “Once it gets established it quickly out-competes the native vegetation. Our mission is to control knotweed, improve water quality, and restore riverine habitat.”
Managing knotweed is a major undertaking for King County and is especially important along the Cedar River where control is regulated. Sayward explained that knotweed clones itself in big flood events on the river when the plant’s root base breaks apart easily and travels downstream to other locations.
The way the process works is this: working closely together, Sayward and Mathew move through the greenspace by “gridding” or “running transects” in order to track down knotweed.
“We move strategically through the space in an effort to get visual coverage of the entire site,” Sayward explained. “We use maps, our GPS track logs, landmarks, and lots of verbal communication to make sure that we are getting our eyes on the whole site, and hopefully finding every stem of knotweed.”
My job was to follow Sayward and Mathew around closely with a large black trash bag for proper disposal of litter and garlic mustard sprouts — another noxious weed that the county is required to control. I was amazed at how effortlessly they find the plants they are looking for. Matthew compared the process to the way birds of prey use shapes to hunt.
“Pretty much in here, I’m looking for leaf markings that aren’t jagged. Anything smooth,” Matthew said without breaking his stride. Taking his advice, I looked for smooth-edged leaves, but all I saw was a field of green plants. I was unable to distinguish between good and bad. It was like looking for a green needle in a green haystack.
Our search for weeds brings us within a couple of feet of a neighbor’s property. A family looked over at us briefly as they stained their back porch but seemed undisturbed by our presence.
“Do they know what we’re doing here” I asked Sayward, a little nervous about creeping in the woods so close to their house.
“Oh yeah. I called them earlier this week to let them know we were coming,” she said.
A crucial component of the work King County’s Noxious Weed control team involves establishing and maintaining good, communicative relationships with property owners. This makes sense, considering plants don’t decide where they’ll grow based on property rights. Some property owners can be leery of the presence of county employees though, requiring a good ambassador to communicate the mission of the Noxious Weed Control Program, while listening to the concerns and curiosities of the public.
Sayward Glise is just that person. Friendly and knowledgeable, with plenty of mom power, Sayward embodies King County’s good neighbor policy. Her kindness and passion for the work are apparent both in her enthusiasm to teach me and the way she interacts with neighboring property owners over the course of the day. She is a face they can trust.
On the origin of her career with King County, Sayward explained that she started with EarthCorps, and was able to network with King County project managers while doing work on the Cedar River. After some seasonal positions in the Noxious Weed Control Program, Sayward went after, and got, a full-time gig.
Despite the hard work, Matthew and Sayward praised the job they have. Though, occasionally a blackberry plant can stab you in the face.
“You go from a scream of frustration to busting out in laughter, because this is such a weird and unique job,” said Sayward.
For Sayward, after a busy day of treating knotweed, it’s common to go home and see the plant’s lime green leaves when she closes her eyes.
“I dream of knotweed,” she said.
By midday our search led us to an area along the Cedar River dominated by dense thickets of butterfly bush, another invasive species that can quickly out-compete native plants. Honeybees seem to love it, but Sayward explained that the larvae of native butterflies don’t like to eat the leaves. Apparently, invasive weeds escaped from victory gardens generations ago giving the plants a mythical quality.
Matthew spotted a large patch of flowering knotweed across the river and without hesitation waded into the knee-deep water to treat the plant on the other side. On days that are particularly hot, he explained, jumping into the river provides a welcome respite from the heat.
I first met Matthew while he was representing the Noxious Weed Control Program at the Duwamish River Festival. A recent graduate from the Environmental Science Program at the University of Washington, he is well equipped for the job. Using expert eyes, or what you may think of as a hawk-like vision, he spots plants one-by-one. Following him around with my black trash bag, he quickly outpaced me. I was sweating and regretting leaving my water bottle in the work truck.
The work Matthew and Sayward perform requires an attention to detail and knowledge of the land you can’t learn in a day. Using software on her phone, Sayward showed me a bird’s eye view of the zig-zag transects we’d made over Buyer’s Curve. Still more knotweed to find. Sometimes the invasive weed is a tiny seedling, other times it’s full-grown and hiding in plain sight.
To find every last noxious weed in Buyer’s Curve we methodically move through the green space. Up and over nursery logs and through chest-high snowberry bushes, or “bee motels,” and “snowberry spider parties,” as Sayward calls them.
“It’s kind of new age, but I have this intuition, like a little voice that whispers, ‘over here,’” Sayward said. (I look in the snowberry to make sure nobody is secretly following us.)
Between the three of us and the handful of plants we aim to eliminate, there were thousands of other living things going about their earthly business. The sights, sounds, and smells were evidence of this. It was easy to take for granted the soothing sound of moving water around us. The air had an intoxicating smell of ripe blackberries with a hint of cottonwood from the trees lining the river. Every sensory detail was heightened by the inhalation and exhalation of the woods. In the tranquility of our little green patch, it was hard to imagine the change that was happening from the impact of invasive species and climate change.
Sayward pointed out a garry oak seedling in the grass below us.
“I’m always excited to see these little guys growing out here.”
Garry oaks are a reminder of a time past when the Pacific Northwest was stewarded by the first people with the help of fire. “I think in no time this place will be a healthy riparian ecosystem again,” she said.
The big payload at the end of the day was a large patch of mature knotweed on a property adjacent to the green space we had been working through. Sayward explained the property had recently been acquired as open space, to be managed by the county, through a voluntary sale by the owner and she had been waiting patiently to “take care of business.”
The property was large with a derelict greenhouse and a family home situated on the bank of the river. It was odd to look at a house so recently occupied by people that was now scheduled for demolition.
“Or you can think of it as prime habitat being reintroduced to the floodplain,” said Matthew.
When the work was done, we brushed off our boots to make sure we weren’t transferring unwanted plant seeds with us — a critical step that all field staff must do.
On the ride home I was exhausted and fighting to stay awake. I briefly dozed off in the backseat of the work truck. When I woke up, we are on I-90 just outside of Seattle. Then I saw it. Lime green, heart-shaped leaves, with little bunches of milky-white flowers. Knotweed hiding in plain sight. From now on, I will see it everywhere.
Gavin Tiemeyer is a graduate of The Evergreen State College where he studied environmental communication. He was a communications intern with the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks in 2019 where he spent time in the field with employees of the Water and Land Resources Division to detail some of the work they do along rivers and streams to ensure clean water and healthy habitat in King County.
By Lilia Cabello Drain, Communications Specialist, Department of Executive Services
Back in 2013, the Water and Land Resources Division wanted to find a more efficient way of determining the characteristics and statistics of the populations they serve or would impact when doing capital projects. The information is critical to supporting King County’s equity and social justice goals and better project or program outcomes.
Developed over the last three years through a partnership with King County GIS Center, the Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) iMap application was developed to allow employees to access and view census and demographic data with a geographic context for their projects, programs and reporting.
“If employees want to know about capital projects and programs that the Department of Natural Resources and Parks is providing to the public, they can see it here,” said Larry Jones, Senior Water Quality Planner in the Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP).
Using a database called PRISM that draws information uploaded by program managers on Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), the map also shows many relevant spatial data layers about stormwater, flooding, land use, administrative areas and King County demographics data, including age, sex, income, race and language.
While an exciting accomplishment, Larry explains that initially people were unsure how this tool could benefit their work. Therefore, it was necessary to secure employee input and involvement, along with management buy-in, and provide demonstrations of the tool’s ESJ relevance. So in 2016, Harkeerat Kang, GIS Application Developer, and Larry began showcasing the tool.
“We basically just went out on the road and did the ‘circuit’ to sell it,” he said. “We shared it with other teams and groups within DNRP.”
Larry Jones and Harkeerat Kang worked together on the ESJ iMap tool.
Since then, people have recognized the value of the tool and are investing in it by providing project data and identifying relevant information, thus making the ESJ iMap tool more relevant and an evolving mechanism, meaning it could eventually expand to include more data and projects.
“We met with Public Health — Seattle & King County to consider adding their projects into the iMap,” said Larry. “There’s also a big move to reach out to school districts and include their data, but currently the application isn’t designed for that.”
“We still have a lot of homework to do, more people to accommodate and other relationships to pursue, but right now we want to get program managers and employees who do any manner of community outreach using the system,” he adds.
Getting his start in Metro in 1982 before eventually finding his way into the Water and Land Resources Division, Larry works on water quality projects, and coordinates ESJ activities for the Water and Land Division within DNRP. He enjoys his work and sharing the impact of this project with the people around him, looking forward to how King County can continue expanding on its promise to prioritize equity and social justice.
“We don’t know all the opportunities this tool will allow us to pursue, but we can guess some by putting on our residents’ hats,” he said. Currently project managers are using it to assess if certain communities are being inequitably impacted or what languages should information be translated in to better serve all residents.
Harkeerat agrees. Beginning with King County in 1999 as a DNRP intern, she has been in her current role since 2006 and is passionate about working on issues of equity and social justice.
“I love what I do, King County has been very good to me,” she said. “So I get the importance of working on equity because King County has definitely been equitable to me.”
The ESJ iMap tool makes a clear connection between the community and King County employees who use it, providing both a direct link between project management decisions and how they will impact real people, residents and the environment.
It is still in development, with a final rollout intended for later this year or early 2018. As employees use the tool, it will continue to be revised with new features or data to make it more robust, responsive and relative to King County projects and programs. Training will begin in late 2017 with project managers and outreach employees in DNRP initially. Eventually other employees and everyday King County residents will be able to examine or assess who a project will impact, the result of long range project plans, the proximity and type of nearby projects and how best to work with specific communities to successfully complete a project.
On June 12, at the historic Carnation Farms – with it’s expansive views of the lush Snoqualmie Valley for a backdrop – King County Executive Dow Constantine met with the Snoqualmie Fish, Farm and Flood Advisory Committee that has spent more than three years forging the first major agreement in the county to strike a balance between farming interests and salmon recovery.
At the core of the Fish, Farm, Flood agreement is a series of immediate, mid-term, and long-term recommendations for action to address overall Snoqualmie Watershed goals.
“I gave the Fish, Farm and Flood Advisory Committee a difficult assignment: Overcome competing interests to achieve shared goals – and they delivered,” said Executive Constantine. “They produced recommendations that will help us restore salmon habitat, strengthen our agricultural economy, and reduce flood risks.”
Going beyond the decades of acrimony as a result of valuable, but often competing goals, the 14-member Advisory Committee has unanimously endorsed a package of 34 recommendations to address specific watershed goals and actions that will improve the watershed for people, businesses, and fish and wildlife.
Among the top priority actions are achieving less costly and more predictable drainage regulations for farmers, and increasing the pace of salmon recovery efforts in the Snoqualmie Valley. This work includes reexamining drainage and buffer regulations, and developing an agricultural land strategy for the valley.
The collaboration was the result of the King County Council adding a directive in the 2012 King County Comprehensive Plan update to create a watershed planning process for the Snoqualmie Watershed – primarily the lower 30 miles of the valley from Snoqualmie Falls north to the Snohomish County line. This area includes about 14,500 acres of the Snoqualmie Agricultural Production District.
The Advisory Committee has representatives from farming and agriculture, conservation, flooding, and salmon recovery interests, as well as tribal, state and local jurisdictions.
The lengthy timeframe for developing this accord was due in part to the fact that several advisory committee members were busy living with the issues they were addressing, including operating farms, completing habitat restoration work elsewhere in western Washington, responding to flooding, and other important tasks.
While the Committee’s report is the culmination of years of hard work, there is more to be done. Among the committee’s recommendations is creation of three task force groups to carry out follow-up work over the next three years.
On a beautiful morning in early May, the city of Kirkland announced it would be the first Washington community to sign up as a Green Shores for Homes (GSH) city. The announcement was made at the GSH-certified Bendich residence on Lake Washington, lush with native plants and featuring a small beach at the shoreline.
Green Shores for Homes, managed by Washington Sea Grant, is a voluntary, incentive-based program to encourage waterfront homeowners, contractors and governments to create sustainable (and salmon-friendly) shorelines for lake and marine shore properties. Often this involves leaving shorelines natural or removing bulkheads or other hard armoring materials.
Improving lakeshore habitat for threatened Chinook salmon is a priority for salmon recovery in WRIA 8, the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish watershed. In addition to their recreational, scenic, and shoreline protection benefits, natural shorelines provide much-needed food and shelter for salmon migrating through Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington on their way to the ocean.
Summer is on the way (fingers crossed warm weather comes to stay sooner rather than later) and King County has begun its seasonal monitoring of freshwater swimming beaches to ensure they are safe for recreation.
Water samples are taken weekly at the freshwater swimming beaches listed below and analyzed for fecal coliform bacteria, toxins, water temperature, and harmful algal toxins.
Beach goers, swimmers, and science enthusiasts can sign up to receive weekly alerts and status updates about the freshwater beaches being monitored. Visit the King County Swimming Beach Monitoring Program website to subscribe. Monitoring results and closure information are posted weekly to the web page. There you can also find information about “swimmer’s itch,” toxic algae blooms and hazards to pets, plus combined sewer overflow locations and status and a link to marine beach monitoring performed by the Washington State Department of Ecology.
The Water and Land Resources (WLR) Division and Public Health – Seattle & King County work together on the program, with WLR managing the monitoring and analysis and Public Health being responsible for closing beaches when there is a risk to public health.
2017 swimming beaches monitored by King County
Andrews Bay – Seward Park
Beaver Lake Beach
Green Lake Duck Island Launch
Green Lake – East
Green Lake – West
Groveland Park Beach
Lake Sammamish Beach
Lake Wilderness Beach
Luther Burbank Beach
Madison Park Beach
Magnuson Beach Off Leash Area
Marina Park Beach
Mount Baker Beach
NE 130th Pl
Pritchard Island Beach
Rattlesnake Lake (monitored by Seattle Public Utilities)