Water Quality Improvement Project
Fecal Coliform Bacteria
As part of a larger effort to address all water quality impairments in the
Palouse River watershed, Ecology began a project on fecal coliform
bacteria on the mainstem Palouse River in 2007. This project addresses
the Palouse River from Colfax to the Palouse Falls and Rebel Flat Creek.
The mouths of major tributaries are also included.
Previous efforts to
address bacteria in the watershed include water quality improvement
projects on the North Fork Palouse River and the
South Fork Palouse
Why this matters
Fecal coliform is a family of bacteria common in human and animal
waste. These bacteria include many species of bacteria, including
Escherichia coli (E. coli). High levels of these bacteria can indicate
untreated sewage or manure is entering streams, making them unsafe for
recreation. Bacteria can get into our waters from untreated or partially
treated discharges from wastewater treatment plants, from improperly
functioning septic systems, and from livestock, pets and wildlife.
To learn more about the importance of this
parameter, please see our water quality
Status of the project
Ecology collected bacteria samples and stream flow from 28 sites twice per
month from June 2007 to May 2008 (see map). After analyzing the data, we found
that most of the Palouse River sites met the bacteria water quality standard but
that major reductions were needed in several of the tributaries.
Ecology worked with several organizations in the watershed to draft an
implementation plan describing methods to address multiple pollution sources
such as degraded riparian areas, failing septic systems, livestock, and
The study and the implementation plan have been published in the draft
Palouse River Fecal Coliform Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load: Water Quality
Improvement Report and Implementation Plan.
This plan was available for public review and comment from
through November 17, 2010. Comments were reviewed and responded to in an appendix to the report.
After any other necessary revisions to the report were made, it was submitted to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval. EPA approved the TMDL on
March 8, 2011.
Streamflow Summary for the Palouse and South Fork Palouse Rivers and Selected
Palouse River Fecal Coliform Bacteria TMDL: Water Quality
Improvement Report and Implementation Plan (Ecology
Quality Assurance Project
Plan: Palouse River Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load Water Quality
Study Design (Ecology publication)
This quality assurance project plan (QAPP) describes the technical study that will monitor
levels of fecal coliform bacteria in the Palouse River watershed and
will form the basis for a bacteria TMDL. The study will be conducted
by Ecology’s Environmental Assessment Program.
WRIA 34: Palouse
Watershed Information (Environmental Assessment
Program web site)
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