State says East End creek is cleaner now

Peninsula News Network

Feb. 1, 2005

Clallam County, WA - State officials say there is still work left to do, but a new report suggests efforts to cut bacterial pollution on Matriotti Creek are making a difference.

The creek drains thousands of acres on the west side of Dungeness River, but has also been considered a key source of fecal colliform bacteria getting into the river, and subsequently into Dungeness Bay.

That fecal coliform comes from a number of sources, such as failing septic systems and livestock waste getting into the streams. Some researchers say the extensive populations of seals and birds near the mouth of the Dungeness River could also be a factor. The bacteria can cause serious health problems, and even death in high enough concentrations, and that has forced the state to close some areas of the bay to shell fishing in recent years.

But the latest report on “bacteria loading” suggests efforts to deal with the pollution may be working. Debby Sargeant of the State Department of Ecology says the report is “good news” for the shellfish growers and shows local groups and landowners are “stepping up to keep the creek clean”. Those programs include building fences to keep livestock out of Matriotti Creek, and replacing failing septic systems. The Clallam Conservation District has also spent thousands of dollars enclosing open irrigation ditches to keep water clean.

DOE officials say Matriotti Creek is cleaner than it was two years ago, but more work needs to be done along the Dungeness itself.

in the coming months, they are expecting Clallam County to step up efforts to identify and repair “septics of concern”. In addition, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has 1-million dollars in federal funding to continue monitoring programs on the river. Part of that money will go to try a process that will use DNA to try and more closely identify sources of the fecal coliform bacteria.



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