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July 1, 2016: Tenmile Clean Water Project presents results from “Crush, the Poop Smelling Dog” sampling at July 13th public meeting

posted Aug 18, 2016, 1:33 PM by Virginia Cleaveland
In late April, Public Works Department held special countywide sampling event with scent-trained dog to track human waste pollution in surface water. 

Staff from Whatcom County Public Works Department will present results from a field sampling exercise with “Crush, the Poop Smelling Dog” during a monthly public meeting of the Tenmile Clean Water Project. This meeting will be from 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, at Bellewood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, Lynden.

The Tenmile Clean Water Project is a citizen group working to lower fecal coliform bacteria levels in the Tenmile Creek Watershed. The group is coordinated by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

In late April, Whatcom County hired Environmental Canine Services LLC to employ their scent-trained canine, named Crush, to track human waste pollution in surface water at several sites. Crush is a highly trained work dog that can distinguish between human waste and other bacteria sources: when she smells human waste, she immediately lies down.

At the July 13th meeting, Erika Douglas, senior water quality planner with Whatcom County Public Works Department, will explain how and why Crush is helping the county’s efforts to reduce fecal coliform bacteria pollution in the Nooksack Watershed. Crush traveled to many parts of Whatcom County to sniff water, and various groups working to reduce fecal coliform in surface water also brought samples for Crush to sniff.

Fecal coliform bacteria pollution is a widespread problem in Whatcom County. The bacteria are found in human and animal waste, and people can get sick after coming into contact with water polluted with the bacteria, either from exposure to sewage and animal waste, from direct contact with polluted water, or from eating contaminated shellfish.

A concerted effort is underway to reduce the amount of fecal coliform bacteria entering local waterways, especially from septic systems. Representatives from local, state, and federal agencies are working with residents and landowners to identify and eliminate preventable sources of pollution, and technical and financial assistance is available to help landowners fix pollution sources. Whatcom County’s effort is the Pollution Identification and Correction Program (PIC).

“The county’s PIC program efforts are quite impressive,” said Lee First, North Sound Baykeeper for RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. “Many community members came out to watch Crush in action. It was fascinating to watch how she worked. Fecal coliform pollution comes from a variety of sources, and we all have to do our part to work for clean streams and healthy shores.”

The public is invited to attend the July 13th meeting to learn about the county’s PIC program, the efforts that volunteers from the Tenmile Clean Water Project are undertaking, and future volunteer opportunities.

The Tenmile Clean Water Project is a group of citizens who mostly live in the Tenmile Creek Watershed. Their mission is to reduce the level of fecal coliform in Tenmile, Fourmile and Deer Creeks. The group also aims to become the first watershed in Whatcom County that is fully compliant with Whatcom County’s on-site sewage (OSS) rules.

Tenmile Clean Water Project public meetings take place at Bellewood Acres on the second Wednesday of each month. More information about the Tenmile Clean Water Project is at http://www.re-sources.org/tenmile-creek.

Media Contact: Lee First, North Sound Baykeeper, leef@re-sources.org
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