Water Quality Monitoring
In partnership with Whatcom County Public Works, Whatcom MRC helps monitor water quality in North Chuckanut Bay.
North Chuckanut Bay
North Chuckanut Bay is a recreational shellfish harvesting area that supports many species of clams, including littlenecks, manila, butter, horse, and cockles. There have been concerns about bacteria levels in Chuckanut Bay for the past 20 years. In 1994, the WA State Department of Health (DOH) conducted a shoreline survey of Chuckanut Bay Park, and the resulting report recommended that the recreational shellfish harvesting area in the bay should be closed because of water quality and sewage disposal conditions. However, the area has always been popular for recreational harvest despite the health advisory and shellfish closure.
The Whatcom MRC is currently working with the Whatcom County Health Department, Whatcom County Public Works Natural Resources, Washington Department of Health, citizen volunteers, and the local community to conduct intensive water quality sampling and community outreach, to help potentially restore the recreational shellfish area.
Water Quality Sampling
Grab samples for fecal coliform are taken at up to 12 sites on a monthly basis. Water samples are collected with trained staff using consistent methods and monitoring sites. For detail, you can refer to the Fecal Coliform Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) (PDF).
The Washington State Department of Health uses fecal coliform (bacteria) data to classify shellfish harvest areas as open, conditionally open, threatened, or closed. Chuckanut Bay is permanently closed to recreational harvest. Monitoring the freshwater inputs to these systems helps identify priority locations for follow-up actions and public outreach. All water quality data collected through the MRC are included in Whatcom County Public Work's Comprehensive Water Quality Monitoring Program, which includes over 90 sites throughout Whatcom County.