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March 1, 2016

Clean Samish Initiative Enters Spring Critical Period

SKAGIT COUNTY – The residents of the Samish River watershed (basin) have partnered in a campaign to reduce water pollution from fecal coliform bacteria. Fecal coliform is bacteria from feces of warm-blooded animals such as humans and other mammals. It is a commonly-used indicator for the possible presence of pathogens in water.

Though fecal coliform levels have decreased significantly over the last 5 years that the Clean Samish Initiative (CSI) has been working, state standards have yet to be met, and water quality remains unsafe during rainy times of the year.

The CSI team includes residents, land and marine agricultural producers and local and state environmental agencies. Together, members of this team have found and addressed numerous sources of fecal coliform. However, water sampling continues to show fecal coliform counts that exceed standards in the Samish River.

The critical period includes the months March through June, when fecal coliform levels are known to be the highest and are causing the closure of commercial shellfish beds. If, during this critical period, the following criteria are met, commercial shellfish harvesting restrictions will be lifted by the State Department of Health:

1) The area receives rainfall typical for the region;
2) The river rises above the current river-level closure at least six times; and
3) No more than one of the river rises has bacterial levels that exceed the safe level.

Assistance from the public is vital in the effort to locate and address sources of fecal coliform pollution. Sources can include leaking septic systems, manure and pet waste. This spring, CSI team members will be in the field sampling water and looking for site conditions that may be sources of pollution.

“This is a community concern and it will take a community effort to resolve,” said Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Coordinator Karen DuBose. “You can locate and eliminate pollution sources in your area. With your help, the goal of clean, healthy water can be met.”

If you have questions about your property, or know of potential pollution sources, technical and financial resources are available to assist you.

For more information please visit the Skagit County Clean Samish Initiative webpage at If you have questions or concerns, please contact Karen DuBose at (360) 416-1440