Water Quality Program

Drayton Harbor FB

Celebrate the good news with us! Join your community and celebrate the three-year anniversary of lifted shellfish harvesting restrictions in Drayton Harbor and the additional lifted restrictions that went into place this October. The Drayton Harbor Shellebration event will be held on Friday, December 13th from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the H Street Plaza located in downtown Blaine, WA. Click here for more information about the event. 

Click here to find recreational beaches where you can harvest shellfish in west Drayton Harbor and other areas in Whatcom County. Remember to always check for biotoxin closures before harvesting shellfish at the shellfish safety hotline (800)562-5632.
In April, our community celebrated the reopening of spring shellfish harvest in Portage Bay. The Washington State Department of Health announced the spring reopening, recognizing community actions to reduce fecal bacteria pollution in the Nooksack River watershed that flows to Portage Bay. With recovery of spring harvest achieved, Portage Bay remains closed to harvest only three months a year during the fall.

Fall is a challenging time for improving water quality and requires consistent efforts to address preventable sources of fecal bacteria pollution. After months of dry summer weather, fecal bacteria from sources such as farm animals and pets build up on the land. Fall rains pick up pollutants and carry them into our ditches and creeks and downstream to our bays and harbors. Fecal bacteria pollution limits people’s ability to safely work in, play in, and harvest food from local waters.

We have tips for farms, septic systems, pet waste, boats and RVs, and urban wildlife to help you find a way to contribute to the solution.
Click here for tips and more information about how you can help prevent pollution closures

Contact Us

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Gary Stoyka

Natural Resources Program Manager

Erika Douglas

Senior Water Quality Planner
Email the PIC Program

Water & Natural Resources

322 N. Commercial Street, Suite 110
Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: 360.778.6230

Public Works Department

Phone: 360-778-6200
Fax: 360-778-6201


Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Closed legal holidays

Pollution, Identification and Correction (PIC) Program

Water Quality is a large topic. There are many different things that can influence the quality of our water. Whatcom County’s Pollution, Identification and Correction (PIC) program is focused on one particular pollution concern facing our County – fecal coliform bacteria. 

Why do we Care About Fecal Coliform Bacteria?

When there is too much fecal coliform bacteria (originating from human and animal poop) in the water it indicates that there are likely pathogens present that can make people sick. Shellfish beds in the marine water are closed to harvesting when bacteria levels are too high.

Whatcom County Public Works uses water quality monitoring data to identify priority areas for improvement programs and provides community outreach and education, technical and financial assistance for landowners, and coordination with County departments and other agencies to identify and address potential bacteria sources.

Why is it a problem

report a problem 

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement PC-01J18001 through the Washington State Department of Health. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Washington State Department of Health, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.