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Being a Steward of Your WaterHaven

As a WaterHaven owner, you are the marine ecosystem's first line of defense. As stewards of the wonderful waterfront environment that we enjoy in the Puget Sound area, we all have special responsibilities to protect, nurture, and preserve it's vitality for now and for the future. There are many advocacy organizations (nonprofit, government, and regulatory) that work to protect your "front yard".

There are many simple and easy actions that you can do as a WaterHaven owner to make a positive difference in the world around you. Here are some to start with:

  • Increase vegetation: Maintain and grow your property to be as vegetated as possible, preferably with native species. This provides mini biospheres for the interaction between land and water. It also provides peaceful ambiance, privacy, sound and visual breaks, and increases property values for you!
  • Grow native species by the water: If at all possible, grow native vegetation at the shoreline or on your bulkhead. This helps provide cover, cooling, and insects to the water and beaches below, and it also helps restore some of the natural boundary mechanisms that should exist in the riparian zone (where land and water meet).
  • Only put water down the drain: Do not pour any unnatural substances down your storm or yard drains that flow into the body of water you are on. This includes simple things such as washing your car elsewhere, recycling used oil, preventing oil drips from your car, and controlling yard chemicals.
  • Make your yard organic and naturally sustaining: Eliminate the use of yard chemicals, unnatural or high potency fertilizers, and pesticides. There are many organic alternatives, plus proper native garden design will eliminate most of the need, time, and effort in the first place. People who tell you otherwise usually haven't really investigated the alternatives or have one of these products to sell!
  • Maintain septic systems: If your property is on a septic system, ensure that it is always functioning properly and there is no leakage into the water. Leaking septic systems and waste seepage are major causes of numerous problems for the ecological balance of many water systems.
  • Remove pet poo: Do not encourage your pets to doodoo on the beach, thinking that it will just be swept away by the high tide. This creates the same problem above, and the doodoos do add up! Bring a plastic bag and pack out any waste just as you would if you were walking in a park or on neighborhood sidewalks.
  • Remove trash: When you go for a beach walk, always carry a bag or pail and pick up litter as you go. It doesn't have to be a lot, but if everyone helps each time they go out for a walk then your beach areas will clean up very fast! The small stuff counts, too.
  • Be an educated WaterHaven owner: A great place to start is the Department of Ecology's Puget Sound Shorelines website.


Advocacy Organizations

There are many worthy marine environmental organizations in our area. Our Sound, lakes, and rivers provide the biosphere's life blood, as well as it's beauty and natural tranquility. Look over the list here and pick out a few to support with your interest, volunteer efforts, and donations. They are not only protecting the web of life, they are protecting the long term value of your WaterHaven investment.

Center for Lake Washington Studies Unofficial website with helpful info on waterfront houses, permits, shorelines, restoration efforts, and tracking data

Citizens For A Healthy Bay Citizens' group that works to clean up, restore, and protect Tacoma's Commencement Bay

Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition Community advisory group devoted to cleaning up the Duwamish River and ensuring all Superfund site actions are properly completed

Environmental Science Center Community programs aimed at educating people of all ages and backgrounds about the marine environment

Green Shorelines for Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish For lakeshore property owners on Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish to improve shorelines for people and salmon

The Living By Water Project Canadian organization dedicated specifically to the needs of waterfront property owners and their topics of interest

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance Volunteers actively monitor and patrol Puget Sound, lakes, and rivers to detect, document, and stop sources of illegal pollution

Russell Family Foundation Private foundation that provides grants for worthy projects that improve water quality, sustainable communities, actionable environmental research

Washington Invasive Species Coalition Protects Washington's fish, wildlife and natural areas from harmful plants, fish, shellfish, and animals


Government Advocacy Organizations

Beach Naturalists Seattle Aquarium program of trained volunteers that go to local Puget Sound beach parks and educate the public on marine life, ecological awareness, and responsible practices

King County environmental stewardship opportunities Summary page for volunteers, businesses, and educators regarding water quality, salmon recovery, plants, groundwater, and related topics

King County waterfront volunteer opportunities Source for other numerous waterfront-related volunteer opportunities offered through King County

King Conservation District King Count natural resources assistance agency that educates and prevents problem situations from arising regarding water, habitat, farms, soil and slope stability, and plants

Lake Stewardship Program Citizen volunteers monitor water quality of their lakes for real and potential changes over time

Northwest Watch / Citizens Action Network: Coast Guard network of local volunteer waterfront home owners who are available for phone calls to help in sighting and determining potential issues on the water in front of their own homes. Here is a TV news story about the program (very large 37.7 MB file).

Puget Sound Nearshore Project Cooperative effort among government, tribes, industries, and environmental organizations to preserve and restore the health of Puget Sound's nearshore

Puget Sound Partnership Collaborative effort among public and private entities to initiate new efforts by Washington State governor to restore Puget Sound's vitality

Seattle Parks & Recreation Supports and maintains public parks, beaches, swimming areas, volunteering, public education, and stewardship programs

Water and Land Resources Division King County division devoted to sustaining healthy watersheds and habitat, ensuring safe supplies of water, controlling stormwater, and other related responsibilities

Water Resource Inventory Area 8 King County / DNR cooperative effort between citizens, government, scientists, businesses, and other environment groups to improve water quality and salmon habitat; includes Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Puget Sound north of Seattle

Water Resource Inventory Area 9 King County / DNR cooperative effort between citizens, government, scientists, businesses, and other environment groups to improve water quality and salmon habitat; includes central Puget Sound and many of King County's smaller lakes and rivers


Government Regulatory Agencies

King County Property Services Responsible for King County building & land use, regional policy, and planning

Seattle Department of Planning and Development City agency responsible for creating and enforcing regulations around construction, zoning, permits, and general land use topics

US Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District Responsible for engineering and implementation of very large scale projects, some of which relates to waterways, navigation, shoreline construction, clean up, and repairs

Washington Department of Ecology State agency responsible for regulations and enforcement of efforts in pollution reduction, increased sustainability, and natural resource preservation

Washington Department of Ecology Shoreline Management Provides information on the Shoreline Management Act and its implications for coordinating new building efforts along Washington shorelines

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Supports and regulates state fish, wildlife, and habitat, including recreational and commercial uses


Spill Response

Puget Sound Oil Spill Response Forum Meeting notes, handouts, and summary information to quickly educate waterfront community homeowners on what they can do to help in the event of an oil spill


Incident Reporting Telephone Numbers

Emergencies involving people or destruction of property: 911

General marine emergency or incident hotline: 1-800-477-6224

Toxic, chemical, and oil spills: 1-800-424-8802

Marine mammal stranding: 1-800-853-1964

Paralytic shellfish poisoning / "red tide" information hotline: 1-800-562-5632

Derelict fishing debris: 1-800-477-6224


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