Everyone wants clean water to support healthy drinking water, safe recreational uses, quality water for irrigation and livestock, healthy fish, and shellfish that are safe to consume.
Currently, many creeks in Whatcom County do not meet water quality standards for fecal coliform bacteria. Fecal coliform bacteria are found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals and when found in creeks are an indicator of human or animal waste in the water. The higher the bacteria level, the greater the public health risk to people drinking, wading, fishing, or consuming shellfish.
The Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program has been created to help implement community solutions to clean water.
The key potential sources of bacteria that have been identified in Whatcom County coastal drainages are (1) animal waste from agricultural operations, domestic pets, waterfowl, and urban wildlife, and (2) human sewage from failing on-site sewage systems (OSS), leaking sewers, or cross-connections.
The Natural Resources Division coordinates a routine water quality monitoring program at approximately 90 stations in watersheds that discharge to marine waters. Samples are collected on at least a monthly basis and analyzed for fecal coliform bacteria. Results are evaluated annually to identify focus areas withthe largest bacteria problems. Within the focus areas, creek segments are monitored and potential bacteria sources are identified.
Technical and financial resources are offered to landowners to identify and implement solutions on their property. Residents can help improve the community's water quality by inspecting and maintaining septic systems and by fencing animals out of creeks, ditches and swales. By actively managing pastures, creating protected heavy use areas, and covering manure storage areas, residents can prevent manure-contaminated mud from polluting surface water. Planting shrubs and trees along creek banks and picking up after dogs also contributes to better water quality.
Small Farm Assistance- Whatcom Conservation District
Septic System Maintenance and Operations- Whatcom County Health