Latest health report on Washington beaches

Curious to see how your favorite beach fared for water quality and healthy swimming last year? See the good, the best, and the "poopy" marine swimming beaches in our BEACH Program Annual Report.

In this report, you can now see how beaches stacked up. You'll find the top swimming beaches for water quality by county and beaches that did not meet swimming standards last year.

Overall, the majority of our beaches monitored in 2018 met the swimming criteria and the number meeting standards increased by 5 percent. Bay View State Park, Kayak Point County Park, and Sooes Beach had more than one sampling event in the advisory or closure range. For that reason, these three beaches were considered not passing beaches. 

Clear day on a Puget Sound beach with people swimming and sunbathing.

Why does it matter?

Beach in background, foreground says "Nobody wants to swim in poop; learn how to keep your beach clean."

Anyone who uses marine beaches for recreational purposes like swimming, scuba diving, surfing, or kayaking can be exposed to illness associated with water contaminated by sewage.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can results in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

How does poop get in the water? 

Fecal bacteria get into the water in a number of ways. Some of it is natural, and a small amount of fecal bacteria does not pose a threat to public health.

Water at a beach can rise to an unhealthy level for many reasons. The most common reasons include: 
  • Septic tanks that are not properly maintained.
  • Large amounts of sewage discharged from sewers overflowing during heavy rain.
  • Sewage discharged by recreational boaters.
  • Wild animals congregating because of people feeding them
  • Dogs pooping on beaches
  • Used diapers being left on the beach.

Check on your favorite beach before you head out!

In 2019 we are monitoring 67 popular high-use, high-risk saltwater swimming beaches throughout Puget Sound and the coast. 

Parent and child examine items on a rocky Puget Sound beach.

We sample for fecal bacteria beginning the week of May 20 and through Labor Day, Sept. 2. You can see which beaches have an advisory on our interactive Beach Closure and Advisory map during the swimming and sampling season. We encourage you to bookmark this map on your smartphone.