Water Quality Improvement Projects
Totten and Eld Inlets:
Fecal Coliform


Eld and Totten Inlets are located in Southwest Puget Sound. Little Skookum Inlet is a small bay off of Totten Inlet. Land use along the creeks is mostly small farms/residential, often with a few of head of livestock. A couple of larger properties on Schneider and Skookum Creeks support larger concentrations of livestock. There are areas of commercial development at Mud Bay, Steamboat Island Road, and along Skookum Creek. Skookum and, especially, Kennedy watersheds also have commercial logging operations. All three inlets support substantial commercial and recreational shellfish harvests.

The Kennedy Creek drainage is largely in the ownership of Green Diamond Resource Company, and is managed under a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Since the HCP is considered equivalent to a TMDL (total maximum daily load or water quality improvement project), Kennedy Creek temperature issues are being addressed through the HCP and are not included in this project. Near the mouth, Skookum Creek enters the Squaxin Island Tribal reservation. Tribal lands are under tribal jurisdiction, and are not addressed in this water quality improvement project.

There is abundant wildlife throughout the area, notably an elk herd of approximately 100 head in the Skookum drainage, an elk herd of approximately 18 in the McLane drainage, beaver ponds in the McLane, Kennedy, and possibly other drainages, and bird populations throughout. (See Study Area map)

Water quality issues

Little Skookum Creek is too warm to support healthy aquatic life. Salmon are particularly sensitive to warm temperatures.

Several creeks in this watershed have enough fecal coliform bacteria to pose an increased risk of illness to recreational users. In addition, there is concern for protecting the shellfish harvest in the associated marine areas. McLane and Perry Creeks flow into Eld Inlet; Schneider, Kennedy, Pierre, and Burns flow into Totten Inlet; and Skookum Creek flows into Little Skookum Inlet.

Why this matters

Fecal coliform bacteria come from the waste of humans and warm-blooded animals like livestock, pets, birds, and other wildlife. The presence of these bacteria indicates the likelihood of other bacteria and viruses associated with feces. People who are exposed to these pathogens through small cuts, by swallowing a little water, or by eating shellfish harvested from contaminated water have an increased risk of illness. That might mean an earache, rash, or something much more serious like hepatitis.

Status of the project

  Fishermen at Kennedy Creek Estuary.    Photo courtesy of the Department of Ecology.
  McClane Creek near mouth.    Photo courtesy of the Department of Ecology.
  Perry Creek.    Photo courtesy of the Department of Ecology.
  Oyster Bay at Eld Inlet.    Photo courtesy of the Department of Ecology.
  Skookum Creek at Mill Road.    Photo courtesy of the Department of Ecology.

In April 2006, a technical advisory group (TAG) began meeting to develop a detailed plan for improving water quality. While the plan was in development, under a grant through Ecology:

  • Thurston County investigated pollution sources identified in a shoreline survey conducted by the WA Department of Health in 2004 (WDOH, 2004 Shoreline Survey of the Eld Inlet Shellfish Growing Area, November 2004).
  • Thurston County conducted a refined water quality monitoring of source areas of pollution identified in Ecology’s TMDL study for this area.
  • Washington State University Extension conducted outreach in the watershed in support of this water quality improvement project, including public meetings, work with classrooms, and workshops on good land management practices and other water quality related topics.
  • Mason and Thurston Conservation Districts provided technical assistance to landowners for conservation.

The draft water quality improvement report (also known as a TMDL) was made available for public review and comment. After the comments were addressed Ecology sent the TMDL to EPA for approval. EPA approved it in June 2006. After EPA's approval Ecology, working with local governments and interested citizens, developed a detailed implementation plan for moving the waters in this area to clean water. The implementation plan was sent to EPA in December 2007.

Technical information

Unless otherwise specified, the following documents are Ecology publications.

Quality Assurance Project Plan: Tributaries to Totten, Eld, and Little Skookum Inlets Temperature and Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load Study

Tributaries to Totten, Eld, and Little Skookum Inlets - Fecal Coliform Bacteria and Temperature Total Maximum Daily Load: Water Quality Improvement Report

Quality Assurance Project Plan: Water Quality Monitoring for Fecal Coliform Bacteria in Kennedy Creek

Quality Assurance Project Plan: Water Quality Monitoring for Fecal Coliform Bacteria in Pierre Creek and Burns Creek

Tributaries to Totten, Eld and Little Skookum Inlets Fecal Coliform Bacteria and Temperature Total Maximum Daily Load: Water Quality Implementation Plan (final)

Pierre Creek and Burns Creek Fecal Coliform Bacteria Water Quality Monitoring Study

Kennedy Creek Fecal Coliform Bacteria Water Quality Monitoring Study

Upper Kennedy Creek Fecal Coliform Bacteria Investigation, 2008-2009

Related information

Thurston Conservation District

Totten and Eld Inlets Clean Water Projects, Final Report (Ecology Publication)

WRIA 14 Kennedy-Goldsborough Information (Water web site)

Surface Water Protection (Thurston County Public Health & Social Services)

WA State University - Mason County Extension

Mason County Government Services web page

Mason County Conservation District


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Last updated October 2016
  Map of Kennedy-Goldsborough watershed, WRIA 14, Washington State.


WRIA: #14 (Kennedy-Goldsborough)
County: Mason

Water-body Names:
McLane Creek
Perry Creek
Schneider Creek
Kennedy Creek
Pierre Creek
Burns Creek
Skookum Creek

Parameter: Fecal Coliform

# of TMDLs: 9

TMDL approved by EPA
Has implementation plan

Contact Info:
Andrew Kolosseus
Phone: 360-407-7543
Email: Andrew.Kolosseus@ecy.wa.gov

Southwest Region
Department of Ecology
Water Quality Program
P.O. Box 47775
Olympia, WA 98504 -7775

Anise Ahmed
Phone: 360-407-66767
Email: Anise.Ahmed@ecy.wa.gov

Environmental Assessment Program
Department of Ecology
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504 -7600