Water Quality Program

Happy New Year!  In 2019, the community had several water quality successes:

  • Spring harvest restrictions were lifted from 800 acres of tribal shellfish beds in Portage Bay
  • 765 acres of shellfish beds in Drayton Harbor were upgraded to year round harvest
  • Had almost 500 attendees at the Small Farm Expo at the Lynden Fairgrounds on March 9th
  • Spread the word about the importance of dog poop pick-up with our Poop Fairy Outreach campaign www.whatcomcounty.us/scooppoop 
  • Celebrated clean water and fresh harvest at the 4th annual Drayton Harbor Shellebration!
  • Helped 177 homeowners with septic maintenance costs through our Septic Maintenance Rebate Program
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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

Drayton Harbor FB
​October 2019 -  DRAYTON HARBOR IMPROVED WATER QUALITY OPENS MORE AREA TO SHELLFISH HARVEST - Click here to view the full press release.
Lummi Harvest
April 2019 - Spring Harvest Restrictions Lifted in Portage Bay. Click here to view the full press release.

photo provided by Lummi Natural Resources Department
The wet season is a challenging time for protecting and improving water quality. It requires consistent efforts to address preventable sources of fecal bacteria pollution. As our soils become saturated, fecal bacteria from sources such as farm animals, pets, and wildlife are picked up by rain and carried 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

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.