Monday, December 19, 2016

Drayton Harbor success story

Environmental Excellence awards honor water quality stewardship

 Jan Hansen, Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District advisory committee, and Geoff Menzies, Puget Sound Restoration Fund, among those who received environmental awards from Ecology's Doug Allen. 

It’s great to have the opportunity to celebrate water quality successes. Cleanup of Drayton Harbor is one such story.

At a celebration event Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, Bellingham field office manager Doug Allen presented Environmental Excellence awards recognizing those who for many years have led efforts to improve water quality in Drayton Harbor.

Since the late 1990s, high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in Drayton Harbor forced shellfish harvest closures for all or part of each year. Fecal coliform bacteria in water are an indicator for pathogens, or disease-causing organisms.

This month, 810 acres of shellfish beds in the harbor were reopened to year-round harvest. That means for the first time in many years people will be able to harvest shellfish during the holiday season!

Drayton Harbor watershed residents can be proud of this accomplishment – it’s a true example of a community coming together to address some really tough water quality issues. Those recognized include:
  • Geoff Menzies - for advocacy and action leading to water quality improvements in Drayton Harbor
  • Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District Advisory Committee – for leadership and community service in support of local shellfish protection
  •  Whatcom County Public Works, Natural Resources - for dedicated leadership and implementation of a Drayton Harbor shellfish protection 
  • Whatcom County Health Department, Environmental Health - for effectively implementing an septic system operation & maintenance program contributing to watershed health 
  • Whatcom Conservation District – for services to the agricultural community in support of water quality improvements in Drayton Harbor
  • City of Blaine - for stormwater and wastewater infrastructure improvements supporting water quality improvements in Drayton Harbor 
Drayton Harbor is a story of many different bacteria sources, and many agencies and community members coming together to address each source. Where does the bacteria come from? Failing septic systems, pets, livestock and wildlife can all contribute to fecal coliform bacteria pollution.

It hasn’t been easy and it can take a long time. Harbor reclassification took 20 years! So we need to remain vigilant. And there’s more that remains to be done. Still, it's important to celebrate this reopening and the people who helped along the way.

Let’s keep the momentum going. The taste of success (and the locally harvested oysters) is sweet, indeed.

Drayton Harbor marina view

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