Hood Canal is a deep, fjord-like body of water, its length bounded by the Olympic Mountains to the west and steep slopes from the Kitsap Peninsula to the east. Its ‘L’ shape extends from the Strait of Juan de Fuca southwest toward Annas Bay where it turns and continues northeast to Belfair. It is a valuable recreational and commercial resource to three Washington Counties, Jefferson and Kitsap to the north and Mason to the south. The canal receives snowmelt and rain via many rivers and streams. An underlayment of glacial till and basalt, along with a sloped and developed shoreline prevents most deep infiltration.
As a result, western Washington rains contribute huge volumes of water that carry surface contaminants to the canal. This large volume of freshwater contributes to the highly stratified temperature and salinity –as well as to the pollution load of the canal.
Soils along the Mason County shoreline of Hood Canal are predominantly Alderwood gravelly sandy loam and Everett gravelly sandy loam. Alderwood gravelly sandy loam is characterized by good natural drainage and is moderately shallow to a layer of cemented till that limits root penetration. Everett gravelly Sandy loam is characterized by somewhat excessively drained droughty soils also underlain by glacial till. (USDA, 1960)