Skip to main content

Keeping freshwater beaches fresh starts with you

Three men running and splashing in shallow water at a lake

Do your part to keep King County's swimming beaches clean and enjoyable for everyone

Thousands of people access King County’s beautiful freshwater swimming beaches during the summer months. To keep beach-goers safe, King County monitors 27 beaches on Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, Green Lake, and other smaller lakes for toxic algae and bacteria levels. If high concentrations of bacteria or algal toxins appear, the Public Health department can make a recommendation to close the beach until water quality improves. 

Try these easy ways to help keep beaches clean and keep the water safe so you can enjoy King County’s swimming beaches all summer long. 

First – make sure you are poop-free before swimming!
It may sound gross, but all of us have small particles of poop on our bodies. The amount of bacteria from poop in the water can quickly increase when lots of people are swimming. Rinse off before you swim and help children clean up after they use the bathroom. If you’re swimming with babies or toddlers, make sure they are wearing well-fitting swim diapers. 

Minimize harmful runoff pollution
Rain runs off in stormwater from streets, parking areas, playing fields, rooftops, or other developed land and flows untreated and uncleaned into nearby lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound. The rain picks up and mixes with whatever is on the ground, like oils, grease, fertilizers, animal poop, soaps, and other chemicals. When these chemicals and particles end up in streams and lakes, they contaminate the water, harm wetlands, and destroy habitat. You can do a lot to help keep rainwater clean from pollution! Start with the tips below and visit to learn more. 

Maintain your personal vehicle
Fix leaks in your car and always safely dispose of used oil, antifreeze, and other fluids. Not sure how to recycle or dispose of vehicle waste? Check out the haz waste disposal locations

If you use a septic system, keep the system maintained
Septic systems need regular inspections, maintenance, and pumping. Otherwise, they can fail, cost a lot of money to fix, and pollute nearby lakes and streams when sewage leaks before it is properly treated. Have a certified maintainer check your system regularly and get it pumped out when needed. 

Rethink fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides
Consider using organic fertilizers and other environmentally safe alternatives. If you do use these chemicals, follow directions, and use them sparingly. Don't fertilize before a rainstorm. Call 206-633-0224 or visit The Garden Hotline for practical advice on natural yard and garden care.

Pick up after your pup 
Clean up after your pet and put pet waste in the garbage. Make sure you pick up your dog’s poop wherever you are, but especially near lakes and streams. You can also help lower the risk of bacteria getting in the water by leaving your dog at home when you visit the beach.

Don’t share snacks with ducks or geese
Geese and ducks love the grassy, open shoreline near swimming beaches, and they leave a lot of poop behind! Sometimes it can even be hard to find a poop-free place to lay your blanket down. If you bring snacks or food to the beach, do not feed ducks or geese. Feeding them attracts them to the area and increases the amount of poop washing into the water. Help remind children and others not to feed these feathered beach visitors either. 

Stay safe and enjoy your swim!
As always, pick up after yourself and don’t leave behind any trash, toys, or food. If you see litter at the beach, please help by disposing of it so it does not end up in the water. 

We can all do our part to keep the water clean and safe for swimming. Check the Swim Beach information page for current beach closures, frequently asked questions, and more information about beach and water safety. 

Recent stories

Stay Connected

Sign up for the latest news and information about our services