NRCS presentation at our April 10 meeting

The Natural Resources Conservations Service (NRCS) sponsors the NWQI:NWQI logo plusFind information and materials from the presentation below.

At our April 10th meeting, Emily Usher presented “results from our local watershed forum last year, combined with results from five other watershed forums conducted across the country (NC, WA, VT, IL, and OK), and watershed-specific recommendations surrounding watershed management, resource needs & education/outreach.”

You can learn more by downloading her presentation (44 page Powerpoint here) and summary of results (2 page pdf here). Or contact us here for assistance.

County septic system homeowner training: April 24

This next opportunity to learn about your home septic system is Wednesday, April 24th, 6pm to 8pm, at the Ferndale WECU, 5659 Barrett Ave.

Evaluate image

With this training you will save money by being certified to evaluate your own system and have confidence knowing how your septic system works.

If your system is not eligible for homeowner evaluation or you simply don’t want to do it yourself, this class is still for you. The training covers the way septic systems work and provides tips for proper maintenance. You will leave feeling good about understanding how this expensive and important piece of your property works.

When you complete the training in person, you also qualify to apply for rebates on repairs or maintenance costs for your septic system. Learn more on the County’s septic system website here.

 

 

 

Portage Bay harvest reopening! (for Spring)

This goal has been central to the mission of our work, and a very significant accomplishment for all those playing a part, large & small! Plenty of work remains, to ensure the Spring opening remains, and to remove the Fall closure next. Here is an excerpt from Whatcom County Public Works press release.

Portage Bay reopeningLummi shellfish

Winter’s delight: Ice sculpture…

Our intrepid water quality sampling wizard was out on his usual rounds last week – in very unusual conditions. With temperatures in the teens and wind chill near zero, early morning on the creek was a bit intimidating. So what does he do? He pauses long enough to appreciate a bit of art offered up by the conditions – and cold fingers snapped some photos so we can join in admiration.

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So, while you are enjoying these, how about a little quiet appreciation for the many volunteer efforts that keep contributing in so many ways to the health of our waterways! It’s what we do….

p.s. If you would like to join in the fun, our next water sampling is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb 26th. Just get in touch here and we’ll get you all set up!

New: County PIC Program e-news

PIC stands for ‘Pollution, Identification and Correction‘, a methodology used elsewhere that also defines the program in Whatcom County Public Works that is focused on fecal bacteria contamination in our waterways, specifically waters that drain to shellfish harvest areas in Drayton Harbor and Portage Bay. This work includes community outreach & education, technical & financial assistance for landowners, and coordination with County departments & other agencies.

This is also the program that coordinates water quality testing across the county, including our regular monthly ‘ambient‘ sampling in the Tenmile watershed, which drains to Portage Bay via the Nooksack River.


And now they have an e-newsletter. This month’s issue includes latest water quality data for the shellfish beds, a report from the Drayton Shellebration in December, upcoming events and more. Download a copy of the January newsletter here.

Sign up for future issues by sending an email to:
PICProgram@co.whatcom.wa.us

Opportunity strikes! Next water sample day: Tuesday, Dec 10th.

We can always use help with our water quality sampling. We have one intrepid volunteer who is reliably on duty, but assistance would be appreciated. If you are interested: 1) see a short description here; and/or 2) contact us here. Stream flows are picking up as the ground becomes saturated – and it won’t be [quite] as cold next week! – so come on out and get a different view of the neighborhood.

Four Mile Creek
Four Mile Creek

New: summary data results summary for Tenmile

As counterbalance to our last blog post showing our concerning results for November, the County has provided their November report (see here) that summarizes data for the metrics actually used for comparison to water quality standards – this is the ultimate measure for a long term look as well as trends. By this test, we are still meeting both standards! This is continuing good news, which also includes a cautionary reminder.

The Geometric Mean is the easier standard to meet as it is a long term average. As the chart makes clear, all of our sample stations not only meet the standard, but are improving – exactly what we want to see!geomean 11-2018
The 90th Percentile is the second, tougher standard because it counts peak results; so if a site frequently ‘spikes‘ high, it can easily exceed the standard. In this case, site T1 at the mouth shows the creek is [barely] meeting the standard (which is really what counts) but multiple individual sites are struggling – and these are the same ones we saw spiking-high during recent rain events, as shown in our special samples (see last blog post.) So the lesson is clear: even brief events that create exceedances can hurt our long term progress. Vigilance is always needed!90th Percent 11-2018

November lab results: updated!

This is an update on data reported at our Nov 14 membership meeting:
During this month our project has collected 21 special samples, in addition to the 10 we regularly collect as part of the County PIC program. With these samples we were hoping to learn more about a trend that is often seen when fall rains arrive: harmful ‘spikes’ in fecal bacteria counts in streams and the Nooksack River. With lab results generally improving during other periods, this year the county and partners created a Fall Strategy to focus attention on prevention, in hopes of minimizing the historical impact. Unfortunately, our results, as well as those reported from collection sites in many other areas, seem to repeat that autumn trend – but we’ll keep working on it! This chart shows lab results & rainfall amounts; scroll down for some explanatory notes.TCWP lab results Nov 2018 v2-1
Notes: color code corresponds to relative impact on the standards shown; Marine results are from samples collected by WA State Health and must meet standards for shellfish consumption, which are more stringent than general standards shown here; the undisclosed ‘high’ result on 11/14 is being investigated further.
County’s Tenmile summary for the same period is available here.

Watershed focus: our T1 sample site – in flood

T1 focus

We have ten sites we sample regularly for fecal coliform as part of Whatcom County’s monthly monitoring program. The one labeled ‘T1’ is just upstream of where Ten Mile Creek flows into the Nooksack – specifically, at the Barrett Road bridge. Data from this site indicate the overall water quality for the Tenmile watershed. Other major tributaries, like Bertrand & Fishtrap creeks, also have sample sites at their mouth, which all help provide a summary view of the lower Nooksack watershed quality.

Because T1 is so close to the river, in an area with little slope, it floods when the river rises – as it has this week. After recent steady rains, this photo from Friday (11/2), looking north across the bridge, clearly demonstrates the ‘close’ relationship between river & creek. With water actually flowing up-stream from the Nooksack, there is no use in collecting this day’s water sample, since it would duplicate the County’s separate sample drawn just up-river.
Thanks to our usual man on the scene for the un-usual scenic blue-sky view!T1 sample site

Septic awareness – on Facebook!

Here’s another TCWP member benefit: FB news without messing with Facebook!
The septic awareness crew at County public works has been upping their ‘outreach’ game, using social media to encourage septic system owners to keep up to date with maintenance. Last month they ran a series of posts with clever, attention-grabbing tag lines – see below for a couple examples (here are the links shown: septic info; and rebate program.)

Reportedly, these have been working – not so much because people love the county’s FB page; mostly it’s because of how news spreads once it gets re-posted a few times. So, do your part – either with FB, or with reliable original technology: spread the word in the neighborhood!