SAMISH BAY — The state Department of Health has closed Samish Bay to shellfish harvesting as a precaution after recent heavy rains have caused a rise in the river level and threat of pollution, according to a release today from Skagit County.

The bay will remain closed until water samples confirm low levels of fecal coliform contamination, the release says.

Shellfish farms may still have shellfish available that were brought in from other growing areas or harvested before the closure, making them safe to consume, according to the release.

Fecal coliform problems in the Samish Watershed have been the focus of ongoing efforts by the Clean Samish Initiative, a group of organizations, agencies and individuals working to clean up the watershed.

Sources of pollution can include leaky septics, farming operations with livestock and that spread manure, human recreation, live-aboard boats, waterfowl and improperly disposed pet waste.

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