Water Quality Program

Are You Ready For Fall Rain? It's time to prepare for the wet season.

After a long, dry period much of the rain can’t soak into the soil. It runs over top of the land into ditches and creeks. During that dry period, pollutants (such as fecal bacteria from livestock, dogs, or wildlife), will build up on the land. When fall rains come, water picks up the pollutants and carries them into our ditches and creeks. Too much bacteria closes beaches to swimming and shellfish harvest. In fact, from October through December, Portage Bay (at the base of the Nooksack River) is closed to shellfish harvest each year.

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 

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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.