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Focus on the Lower Nooksack Watershed

A watershed is an area of land that drains to the lowest point. The lower Nooksack watershed includes ten sub-watersheds that drain to the mainstem of the Nooksack River and ultimately flow to Bellingham Bay and Portage Bay.

The Bertrand Creek sub-watershed, in north Whatcom County near Lynden, became the first focus area in 2013 for reducing bacteria pollution.

Since 2013, Whatcom Clean Water Program partners have expanded bacteria pollution identification and correction efforts to other Nooksack sub-watersheds, including Kamm Creek, Scott Ditch, and Fishtrap Creek.

Program activities

  • Monitoring water quality to prioritize pollution reduction efforts.
    • Sampling includes sites at the Canadian border so we can tell how much bacteria pollution is coming from Canada and how much is coming from Whatcom County.
  • Working with residents to identify and correct sources of preventable bacteria pollution.
    • Communicating clear expectations for protecting water quality and public health.
    • Visiting properties as needed by regulatory staff.
    • Offering opportunities for technical and financial assistance to help landowners fix pollution sources.

Property site visits

Inspectors visit properties based on water quality test results and observed property conditions.

  • Horses, cows, and other livestock – Washington Department of Ecology inspectors work with residents to identify and correct fecal bacteria pollution sources related to horses and non-dairy livestock.
  • On-site sewage systems - Whatcom County Health Department staff provide assistance to identify and correct pollution from on-site sewage (septic) systems.
  • Dairies - Department of Agriculture has state authority for licensed dairies related to water quality protection.

Assistance for property owners

Inspectors can provide information about opportunities for technical assistance and financial assistance.






Last updated July 2015