Water Quality Status and Monitoring Data Summary

Whatcom County Public Works coordinates the regular monitoring of fecal coliform bacteria at approximately 30 freshwater sites in the Birch Bay/Terrell Creek watershed.  The Washington State Department of Health monitors fecal coliform bacteria levels in Birch Bay.  When fecal coliform bacteria is found in water, it indicates that animal waste, and possibly harmful pathogens from fecal matter, are also in the water.  To protect public health, the State Department of Ecology developed water quality criteria for fecal coliform bacteria in both fresh and marine waters.  In the Birch Bay watershed, there are two standards that must be met for freshwater: water samples must have an average of 50 fecal coliform per 100 mL of water and less than 10% of the samples can have more than 100 fecal coliform per 100 mL.  Because fecal coliform levels tend to vary significantly over a short period of time, 1-year and 3-year averages are used to indicate water quality status in the maps and graphs below.  This information is updated twice a year. 

All Birch Bay Monitoring Sites (as of October 2015)
Click on the map below to view at full size.

Terrell Creek Monitoring Sites (as of October 2015)
Water quality samples are taken twice a month at 16-20 sites throughout the Terrell Creek watershed.  Sites were selected to monitor water quality from different subbasins in order to identify areas needing water quality improvement. The current 3-year average water quality status is shown for each monitoring site in the maps below.  The 1-year and 3-year averages are shown in the graphs.  Water quality standards are shown with a yellow line. Click on the maps and graphs to view them at full size. 

 
 
 
 




Coastal Drainage Monitoring Sites (as of August 2015)
Water quality samples are taken once a month about 18 coastal drainage sites.  These are small streams that flow directly into Birch Bay through pipes or open channels.  The current 3-year average water quality status is shown for each monitoring site in the map below.  The 1-year and 3-year averages are shown in the graphs.  Water quality standards are shown with a yellow line. Please click on the maps and graphs to view them at full size. 

 
 


 
 

Birch Bay
The Washington State Department of Health collects water quality samples from ten stations around Birch Bay six times per year.  Marine water quality in Birch Bay continues to meet state water quality standards.  Marine monitoring sites are shown on the map above.

Water Quality Standards
Birch Bay and Terrell Creek are classified as Extraordinary Primary Contact Recreation waters by the Washington State Department of Ecology.  This classification means the state applies the highest water quality standards to this watershed to protect public health.  The freshwater quality standards for fecal coliform bacteria are a geometric mean of less than 50 FC/100mL and not more than 10% of samples exceeding 100 FC/100mL.  The marine water quality standards are a geometric mean less than 14 FC/100mL and an estimated percential of less than 43 FC/100mL. FC/100mL = number of bacteria colonies per 100 mL of water sampled. For more information on water quality standards, please visit the Department of Ecology website.