Water Quality Improvement Project
Wenatchee River Area:
Fecal Coliform Bacteria

Water quality issues

Three tributaries to the Wenatchee River (Mission, Brender, and Chumstick creeks) are included on Washington State’s list of water-quality-impaired waters because of high fecal coliform bacteria counts. Fecal coliform bacteria data show that all three creeks had higher fecal coliform bacteria concentrations and loads during the low-flow period (dry season) when there was less dilution. This indicates principally non-runoff sources of pollution. The sources of fecal coliform bacteria in each creek may be from both human and nonhuman sources.

Wenatchee River watershed, Washington State.  Photographer unknown.

Why this matters

Fecal coliform, also called “bacteria”, is from human and animal waste. It can make people sick and cause the closure of shellfish harvesting beds. Bacteria can get into our waters from untreated or partially treated discharges from wastewater treatment plants, from improperly functioning septic systems, from wildlife, and from unknown sources.

People can help keep bacteria out of the water. Bag and trash dog poop. Check your on-site sewage system to make sure it is maintained and working properly.

Where fecal coliform bacteria are found to be from human sources, septic systems should be evaluated for proper functioning condition and inspections for illicit discharges should be made. Where fecal coliform bacteria are found to be from non-human sources, best management practices (BMPs) should be applied to prevent non-human sources from contaminating the creek.

Status of the project

EPA approved the Wenatchee River Watershed (WRIA 45) Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load Water Quality Improvement Report (WQIR) in April 2007.

Implementation of BMPs and follow-up monitoring programs are necessary to monitor the progress of water quality improvements in Mission, Brender, and Chumstick creeks over time. It is expected that most BMPs will be implemented and shown to be effective by 2013. Fecal coliform bacteria levels are expected to be reduced by 50% by 2013, with a goal of meeting the water quality standard for fecal coliform bacteria by 2018.

Technical information

Wenatchee River Watershed (WRIA 45) Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load Water Quality Improvement Report (Ecology publication)

Wenatchee River Basin Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load Study (Ecology publication)

Related information

Focus on Fecal Coliform Bacteria in Wenatchee River Watershed (Ecology Publication)

Wenatchee Watershed Management Plan, 2006. WRIA 45 Planning Unit (Chelan County)

WRIA 45: Wenatchee Watershed Information (Water web site)


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Last updated December 2015
  Water resource inventory area (WRIA) 45 map, Washington State.


WRIA(s): #45 (Wenatchee)
County: Chelan

Water-body Names:
Wenatchee River
Mission Creek
Brender Creek
Chumstick Creek

Parameter: Fecal Coliform Bacteria

# of TMDLs: 11

Status: Approved by EPA

Contact Info:
Lynda Jamison
Phone: 509-575-2434
Email: Lynda.Jamison@ecy.wa.gov

Central Region
Department of Ecology
1250 West Alder Street
Union Gap, WA 98903-0009