Community solutions for clean water
We all rely on clean, fresh water for drinking, productive farmland, healthy fisheries, recreation and more. The rivers, streams, and ditches that run through Whatcom County provide a vital resource to our communities and contribute to the health of people, livestock, wildlife, fish and shellfish living in our watersheds. The health of our watersheds, and their viability for future generations begins with each of us. (What is a watershed?)
The Whatcom Conservation District works with many local partners to tackle water quality challenges in our communities. As a member of the Whatcom Clean Water Program, we work with rural landowners, agricultural producers, and the public to help to find and fix sources of fecal coliform bacteria entering our waterways. To view recent water quality results from around the county, visit our interactive online results map:
To learn more about your watershed and bacteria monitoring efforts across Whatcom County, visit Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Water Quality Story Map:
What is fecal coliform bacteria? Why does it matter?
Fecal coliform bacteria are found in human and animal feces (poop). Fecal coliform bacteria in a waterway is a sign of harmful pathogens in the water. Human contact with these pathogens can cause illnesses such as gastroenteritis, skin rashes and upper respiratory infections.
Many states, including Washington, use fecal coliform as a criteria for safe recreational use (such as swimming and boating) and for ensuring the safety of consuming shellfish from our marine waters.
What is a watershed?
A watershed is an area of land where all of the water drains to a common point, such as Drayton Harbor, Birch Bay, Bellingham Bay, or Chuckanut Bay. Activities in our watersheds affect the water quality of streams, rivers, and bays.
Check out this fun video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOrVotzBNto
What is the health of your watershed?
Whatcom County Public Works coordinates a routine water quality monitoring program at a fixed-network of approximately 90 sites around the county. Additional sampling is conducted in focus areas where elevated fecal coliform levels have been seen consistently and water quality improvement programs are being implemented. These results are displayed on the map above and summarized monthly. Find your watershed here!
You are part of the solution.
You can take action to improve water quality in your watershed, from picking up your pet’s waste to maintaining your septic system. Visit https://wa-whatcomcounty.civicplus.com/2171/Finding-and-Fixing-Problems to see you can help!
Improving water quality means working together.
At the Whatcom Conservation District, we work with governmental, non-profit, and tribal partners. Check out the links below to see what these partners are doing to improve water quality in our communities:
- Whatcom County Public Works http://wa-whatcomcounty.civicplus.com/1072/Water-Quality
- Whatcom County Health department https://www.whatcomcounty.us/360/Health-Department
- Watershed Improvement Districts http://www.agwaterboard.com/
- Tenmile Clean Water Project https://tenmilecleanwater.org/
- City of Lynden https://www.lyndenwa.org/public-works/
- City of Bellingham https://www.cob.org/services/environment/water-quality
- City of Ferndale http://www.cityofferndale.org/public-works-department/
Washington State and Federal Partners
- WSU extension https://extension.wsu.edu/water/water-quality/
- Washington State Department of Agriculture Dairy Nutrient Management Program https://agr.wa.gov/foodanimal/livestock-nutrient/default.aspx
- Washington State Department of Ecology Non-Point Program https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Water-quality
- Natural Resource conservation Service https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/wa/programs/
- US EPA Region 10 (Pacific Northwest) https://www.epa.gov/puget-sound
- Nooksack Indian Tribe http://nooksacktribe.org/departments/natural-resources/
- Lummi Nation https://www.lummi-nsn.gov/Website.php?PageID=1