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Pollution forcing shellfish restrictions in Henderson Inlet and 3 regional sites

Dale Skrivanich picks up a cluster of oyster shells from the muddy tidelands of Vaughn Bay Saturday April 2, 2016. Skrivanich, along with other residents of Vaughn Bay, contend that runoff pollution is adversely impacting the shellfish in the bay.
Dale Skrivanich picks up a cluster of oyster shells from the muddy tidelands of Vaughn Bay Saturday April 2, 2016. Skrivanich, along with other residents of Vaughn Bay, contend that runoff pollution is adversely impacting the shellfish in the bay. dmontesino@thenewstribune.com

Poor water quality in portions of four counties in Washington will force shellfish harvest restrictions this year, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

An annual evaluation of water quality identified high bacteria levels in commercial shellfish areas in Thurston, Grays Harbor, Kitsap, and Pierce counties, the DOH wrote in a news release Wednesday.

Shellfish harvesting will be restricted in Thurston County's Henderson Inlet, portions of Grays Harbor County near the Elk River, at Chico Bay in Kitsap County's Dyes Inlet, in Pierce County's Burley Lagoon.

Another 19 of the 106 commercial areas in Washington, including many along Puget Sound and some on the coast, are currently threatened with closure due to bacteria.

A map of those areas, as well as current commercial classification information, and a shellfish safety map are available on the DOH website.

DOH officials are working with counties, growers and tribal governments to address current pollution problems, the release says.

The release says the public can help keep waterways clean by "maintaining septic systems, picking up after pets, using pump out stations for boats and recreational vehicles, and managing animal waste from large and small farms."

Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473, @smithlm12
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