MOUNT VERNON — Skagit County Public Works released its annual Water Quality Program report Wednesday, and the news about Skagit county’s waterways is a “mixed bag,” said Rick Haley, water quality analyst for the county.
The report, meant to track water quality inside and outside agricultural zones, includes positive data on the Skagit River’s water quality, as well as disappointing figures on streams in the Samish and Skagit River areas. Many did not meet state water-quality standards meant to protect local salmon from poor dissolved oxygen levels and unhealthy temperatures, the report showed.
“None of the 40 sites has met all water quality standards for the entire project, although some sites meet the standards most of the time,” according to the report.
Findings varied on fecal coliform, with the bacteria primarily being a problem in the Samish River and Samish Bay Watershed. Fecal coliform is a bacteria found in the waste of warm-blooded animals and acts as an indicator of the presence of other, more harmful bacteria.
High concentrations of the bacteria in the Samish River have closed the Samish Bay to shellfish harvest multiple times, during flood events and sometimes during drier weather.
There’s an “…equal number of improving and deleterious trends,” Haley said, adding, “It could be worse.”
The report, produced for eight years, analyzes data gathered during the previous water year, from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The county will use the report to see where more attention needs to be focused, Haley said.
To compile each report, employees with the county’s Public Works Department visit 40 sites every two weeks. They gather water samples, test and send then send them to the laboratory.
“Despite rain, snow, drought, flood, whatever, we’ve never missed a week in eight years,” Haley said.
The report will be sent to the Department of Ecology and is available to the public online.
Check out the report on the Skagit County website.