How does fecal bacteria pollution get into water?

The sources of fecal bacteria pollution are varied, widespread and dependent upon surrounding land use. In rural residential and agricultural areas, sources of fecal pollution may include human waste (poop) from improperly functioning septic systems and animal waste from farms, pets, and wildlife. In more urbanized areas, human waste sources can include leaking sewer pipes, sanitary sewer pipes cross-connected with storm sewer pipes, and homeless encampments without available sanitary services. In urban settings, animal waste pollution sources include dog poop left on trails, sidewalks and lawns, and un-naturally high concentrations of urban wildlife (e.g. raccoons, rats, etc.) attracted by human-sourced food. As rainfall or snowmelt moves over the ground, the runoff picks up and carries with it human-made and natural pollutants. Fecal bacteria washes from the land into storm drains or into ditches and creeks that flow through our communities. The pollution flows to larger creeks and rivers, and eventually empties into our bays and harbors where people work, play and harvest shellfish.

Show All Answers

1. How does fecal bacteria pollution get into water?
2. Why do we test for indicator bacteria instead of pathogens to determine if water is healthy?
3. Are wastewater treatment plants polluting the Nooksack River?
4. Is pollution from the Lummi Reservation causing high fecal coliform bacteria levels in Portage Bay?
5. Can wildlife contribute to high fecal bacteria levels in water?
6. Do agencies use DNA testing to identify sources of fecal bacteria?
7. What can I do about fecal bacteria pollution?
8. Who can help me prevent manure-related pollution?
9. Who can help me prevent pollution from my septic system?
10. Has the state’s surface water quality standard for bacteria changed recently?
11. How does Whatcom County decide when to sample water?
12. Can wood waste (decomposing wood or vegetation) contribute to bacteria pollution?
13. Can Klebsiella be harmful to people?
14. Who enforces codes and laws related to protecting water quality?
15. What does “non-regulatory technical assistance” mean?