Tenmile Clean Water Project

What is the Tenmile Clean Water Project?

The Tenmile Clean Water Project represents an effort by citizen stakeholders to involve the community to reduce fecal coliform levels on a voluntary basis. 

The mission of the Tenmile Clean Water Project is to set a path forward to reduce fecal coliform bacteria (bacteria) levels in the Tenmile Creek drainage — which includes Tenmile, Deer and Fourmile Creeks — so that bacteria levels meet the water quality standards and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standards over the long term.

A healthy Puget Sound is important for our region’s economic, cultural and ecological future. As population pressure in our region continues to grow, the Nooksack basin and Puget Sound is under threat from pollution, habitat loss, and other stresses. Bacteria levels are increasing in almost all lowland streams in the Nooksack basin. Compromised water quality can threaten human health and agricultural viability, as well as threaten the closure of downstream shellfish beds that are relied on for tribal and commercial shellfish harvesting operations in Portage Bay. As part of the Nooksack basin, Tenmile Creek is under a TMDL, authored initially in 1995. Although water quality trends show elevated bacteria levels in the lowland streams, Tenmile Creek is currently the only lowland stream that is meeting the two water quality standards for bacteria.

Meeting info

Ongoing meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month. 
The next meeting is Wednesday, September 13th, at BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian Drive, Lynden. 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.   

Tenmile watershed is the ONLY lowland watershed in the Nooksack basin that is currently achieving both water quality standards for fecal coliform bacteria.

Volunteers have been tabling at several locations to inspire neighbors to inspect their septic systems. Let us know if you can help or have ideas about where to table. We want Tenmile to be the first watershed in the Nooksack River basin to be 100% compliant with septic inspection rules.

Whatcom County Health Department is notifying property owners in the Portage MRA-Nooksack River Watershed to have their on-site sewage system (OSS) evaluated. Read the letter sent to Tenmile Watershed residents in April 2016 to notify them about OSS evaluation requirements.

View the presentation Pesticides and Water Quality in Tenmile Creek, presented by two toxicologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Project participants are keenly interested in this topic because of the crayfish dieoff that occurred in Tenmile Creek in June 2015.

View the most current information about fecal coliform bacteria levels in Whatcom County in this Nooksack River Watershed Water Quality Status: Fecal Colifom Bacteria report.

About the committee

All efforts that are undertaken by the Tenmile Clean Water Project will be guided by the committee. The committee charter outlines the mechanics of how the committee will operate by defining the mission, leadership, responsibilities, and basic rules under which the Committee will operate. The committee is open to everyone, meets once a month (second Wednesday of each month) at Bellewood Acres, at 6:3o PM.

The committee will work together to develop the path, actions and activities that will engage neighbors and community members in the goal of reducing fecal coliform levels in the creek. RE Sources staff will assist the committee with logistical and research needs, and any other tasks deemed appropriate by the committee and staff. The committee will review all decisions as a whole, speak as a group, be adaptive and flexible, and practice adaptive management when necessary. 
  1. The committee consists of members who will volunteer their time and energy to the goal of reducing fecal coliform levels in the watershed. All are welcome.

  2. Members agree to serve on the committee through November 2014. 

  3. The committee will develop a work plan, and will be guided by this work plan. The work plan may include some of the following projects:
  • Technical work and review: Identify septic tank inspection regimes, farm practices or techniques, stream and/or buffer projects, , and/or other applicable techniques issues that might be useful to reduce levels of fecal coliform. Experts may be brought in to assist the committee with this process.
  • Fecal coliform testing: Additional data or sampling locations may be added to assess problem areas and solutions. 
  • Education and outreach: Educate the surrounding community about fecal coliform. Offer informational fairs. Conduct informal “kitchen table discussions” or neighbor-to-neighbor communications.

Fecal coliform sampling data in Tenmile Watershed

A presentation that includes agenda and most recent data collected by volunteers in the Tenmile watershed (December 2016) can be viewed here.

A map showing the geometric mean for samples collected during the first year of the project is here.

A graph showing Portage Bay Shellfish Protection District fecal coliform geometric mean of sample collection sites is here. Note station "TI" is the mouth of Tenmile Creek at Barrett Road, Ferndale.

Historical data for Tenmile watershed is located here. Note - this is a large file, may not work on some computers.

Past presentations

Meeting minutes

2016: June 2016   May 2016   April 2016   March 2016   February 2016   January 2016  Tenmile Minutes August - December

Additional resources

https://sites.google.com/a/re-sources.org/main-2/tenmile-creek/Map%20of%20Tenmile%20watershed.jpgAre you curious about what native fish live in Tenmile Creek? Click here to view Melissa Erkel's presentation.

Click here to view a presentation about fecal coliform survivability. The author of this presentation is Stephanie Harris, US EPA Scientist.

Click here to read a report called Fourmile Creek Buffer Planting Project Progress Report, June 2013

Click to see a map of the Tenmile Creek Watershed

https://sites.google.com/a/re-sources.org/main-2/tenmile-creek/Map%20of%20sample%20locations.jpg?attredirects=0Click here to view a map showing stormwater outfalls in the vicinity of Tenmile and Fourmile Creeks

Click here to view a map showing stormwater outfalls in the vicinity of Deer Creek

View a map of sample locations within the Tenmile Creek Watershed.