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Whatcom Conservation District

6975 Hannegan Road, Lynden, WA 98264 Phone: (360) 526-2381 Fax: (360) 354-4678
e-mail: wcd@whatcomcd.org

TO: MARK PERSONIUS
FROM: MEG HARRIS, WCD; ERIKA DOUGLAS, WCPW
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON FRESHWATER WATER QUALITY TRENDS IN NOOSACK BASIN
AS OF JULY 2017
DATE: 8/2/2017
CC: WCD BOARD, WCD PIC TEAM, WCPW PIC TEAM

Whatcom County Public Works (WCPW) coordinates regular monitoring of fecal
coliform concentrations at a fixed-network of approximately 19 sites in the Nooksack River
watershed. This routine water quality sampling sampling represents a portion of Whatcom
County’s Pollution Identification and correction (PIC) Program sampling efforts. Additionally,
samples are collected on a weekly basis at a fixed-network of approximately 25 sites in the
Fishtrap Creek subwatershed, a priority subwatershed within the Nooksack River watershed.
Regular analsyis of these water quality monitoring results allows Whatcom County and
Whatcom Clean Water Program partners to track trends in bacterial water quality over time
and address sources of bacteria across the watershed. An overview of Nooksack Watershed
water quality trends was presented to the Whatcom Clean Water Program Core Team on July
21, 2017 and is summarized below:
1. Fecal coliform concentrations at long-term, fixed-location routine monitoring sites show
improved water quality across the Nooksack watershed during the last 2-3 years.
2. Average fecal coliform concentrations (geometric mean) have decreased over the past
12 months compared to the past 36 months at 17 of 19 monitoring sites, indicating
improvements in water quality at these sites. 11 of 19 sites meet the geomean criteria
for fecal coliform. 8 of 19 sites fail to meet this criteria.
3. Seasonal spikes in fecal coliform concentrations across the watershed exceed water
quality criteria, both in terms of the frequency and the magnitude of these spikes. 17 of
19 sites fail to meet the criteria for 90th percentile, meaning that greater than 10% of
the sample results exceed 200 CFU/100ml for these sites.
4. A 2015-2017 comparison of geometric mean data for Fishtrap Creek monitoring sites
during the spring Portage Bay shellfish harvest closure period (April-June) shows overall
water quality improvement. Fishtrap Creek watershed improvements observed in the
spring have not been seen thus far during the fall closure period (Oct-Dec).
Whatcom Conservation District
6975 Hannegan Road, Lynden, WA 98264 Phone: (360) 526-2381 Fax: (360) 354-4678
e-mail: wcd@whatcomcd.org

Attached to this memo is the current Nooksack River Watershed Water Quality Status: Fecal
Coliform Bacteria summary. This summary is compiled monthly and shared publically via
Whatcom County’s Water Quality Monitoring Results webpage:
http://www.whatcomcounty.us/2170/Water-Quality-Monitoring-Results

Finally, Whatcom County Public Works and the Portage Bay Shellfish Protection District
Outreach Committee are compiling an annual report for 2016. This report will be made
available for your records when it is complete.

For more information, please visit Whatcom County’s Water Quality Monitoring Results
webpage or contact either myself or Erika Douglas, Whatcom County Public Works.

Meg Harris
Water Quality Data Coordinator
Whatcom Conservation District
mharris@whatcomcd.org

(360) 526-2381 x107
6975 Hannegan Road
Lynden, WA 98264