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Whatcom Clean Water Program


People in Whatcom County, WA, value clean water. However, many don’t know that creeks flowing through their communities and eventually to coastal bays are polluted with fecal coliform bacteria. High levels of fecal coliform bacteria in water can affect people's health.

Fecal coliform bacteria are found in human and animal waste (feces). People can get sick after coming into contact with water polluted with fecal coliform bacteria, either from exposure to sewage and animal waste, from direct contact with polluted water, or from eating contaminated shellfish.

A concerted effort is being put forth to reduce the amount of bacteria that is getting into our local waterways. Representatives from local, state, and federal agencies are working with residents and landowners to identify and eliminate preventable sources of fecal coliform bacteria pollution. (See watershed map) Technical and financial assistance is available to help landowners fix identified pollution sources.

Pollution sources

In rural areas, water can get polluted with bacteria in several ways:

  • Failing on-site sewage (septic) systems
  • Horses and livestock
  • Pets
  • Wildlife

Fecal pollution to water from human, livestock, and pet sources is preventable. Fixing those sources provides opportunity for improving water quality to healthy, safe conditions.

Working together to clean up our water

Every community member can help protect water quality. When we all understand how to prevent fecal coliform pollution to local waters, we can reach our goals of having clean, safe water while respecting landowners and Whatcom County’s agricultural and rural character.

Program partners

Whatcom County

  • Health Dept
  • Planning & Development Services
  • Public Works
  • Whatcom Conservation District


  • Dept of Agriculture
  • Dept of Ecology
  • Dept of Health
  • Puget Sound Partnership
  • WA Conservation Commission


  • Lummi Nation
  • Nooksack Indian Tribe


  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service

Focus on Lower Nooksack Watershed

Focus on Drayton Harbor Watershed

Quarterly Reports






Reporting Progress:

January-June 2016



Monitoring bacteria in water


For more information:

Andrea Hood
Program Coordinator
Whatcom Clean Water
WA Department of Health
Office of Environmental Health & Safety

Ty Keltner
Communications Manager
WA Department of Ecology