Whatcom County Shellfish Protection Districts - Tools for Correcting Pollution Sources

Water Quality Monitoring and Dye-testing

(Includes establishing water quality monitoring, ambient monitoring, targeted shoreline monitoring, storm/event sampling.)

DOE conducted a TMDL study in 2008 in the Drayton Harbor watershed. In 2009, Whatcom County Public Works continued monitoring at these and additional sites on a monthly basis. This is a part of the County's routine monitoring program and data is evaluated and areas are prioritized on an annual basis (Annual Water Quality Reports). Additional Drayton Harbor watershed focus area sampling and a wet season monitoring project have been conducted to help further identify hot spots or conditions that lead to elevated bacteria levels. Drayton shoreline surveys identified high fecal coliform levels, which led to fixing problems with On-Site Sewage Systems. Drayton Harbor held a 6-month, community-based Volunteer Shoreline Monitoring Project that involved volunteers from the Community Oyster Farm Project. Volunteers monitored 10 stormwater outfalls around Drayton Harbor on a monthly basis. Volunteers took rough flow estimates, where possible, and collected samples for fecal coliform bacteria testing. The City of Blaine partnered in this effort by analyzing the bacteria samples. The sample program was designed to help prioritize which drainages should be targeted for additional follow-up study to help identify pollution sources. Montioring at marinas and of stormwater have examined potential sources of pollution.

Water Quality is monitored twice a month at 16 sites in Terrell Creek watershed that drains into Birch Bay to identify areas needing water quality improvement (Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association Upper Terrell Creek Monitoring Project 2012-2013 (PDF)). In addition, water quality samples are taken monthly in approximately 18 sites in Birch Bay coastal drainages. The current water quality synopsis can be found on BBWARM website at Birch Bay Watershed Water Quality Status and Terrell Creek & Birch Bay State of the Watershed (PDF).

Office Evaluation

(Includes GIS and other existing data evaluation.)


Parcel Inspection (Sanitary Survey)


Visual Inspections from Vehicle


Experimental Methods

Microbial Source Tracking (MST)

Several MST projects have been implemented in the Drayton Harbor watershed including Drayton Harbor MST Phase 1 and 2. In addtion, Whatcom County Public Works is conducting a MST study during 2014 in Cottonwood coastal drainage in Birch Bay watershed.

Plane Fly-Overs


Scent Testing




Agricultural Best Management Practices

Fencing of Heavy Use Areas


Riparian Buffers


Farm Plans


Operation and Maintenance


Other Tools

Whatcom County planning and development services regulates potential agricultural violations through the Critical Areas Ordinance's Conservation Program on Agricultural Lands (CPAL) program. Enforcement is challenging and not popular using CPAL.

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