Department of Ecology News Release - Oct. 13, 2020

Report outlines plan to reduce bacteria levels in Yakima-area creeks

Comment period on water quality plan runs through Nov. 13

Waterfowl at Randall Park are contributors of bacteria to Wide Hollow Creek

YAKIMA – 

Strategies to address fecal bacteria in Cowiche Creek, Wide Hollow Creek and the Moxee Drain watersheds are outlined in a draft technical report that’s now available for review by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology).

The draft water quality improvement plan, focus sheets in English and Spanish, and information on how to comment can be found on our webpage. Comments can be submitted online or in writing through Nov. 13, 2020.

Though a yearround problem, fecal coliform and E. coli (Escherichia coli) levels in these surface waters are significantly higher during the irrigation season (April through October). Runoff from storms during that same season result in even greater bacterial pollution.

Bacterial pollution in streams and lakes puts people and animals at risk for diseases when exposed to contaminated water. State water quality standards are designed to protect human health and recreation, including swimming and fishing.

The draft plan includes limitations on fecal bacteria sources and desribes specific activities and best management practices to help reduce bacteria levels, primarily in unmanaged stormwater and irrigation return drainages.

Ecology is finalizing the report that identifies the “total maximum daily load” of bacteria the streams can handle and still comply with state water quality standards. Known as a TMDL, the cleanup plan provides a mechanism for addressing pollution in state waters under the federal Clean Water Act.

The Mid-Yakima Basin Bacteria TMDL Technical Report will be submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval.

How can I comment?

You can submit comments:

  • Online via the eComments form
  • Or by mail (postmarked by Nov. 13, 2020), c/o Cole Provence, Washington State Department of Ecology-Central Regional Office, 1250 W. Alder St., Union Gap, WA 98903

Contact information

Joye Redfield-Wilder
Communications Manager
509-961-6277 or
Twitter: EcyCentral