Swift Creek project

Ecology and Whatcom County Public Works Department are collaborating on the Swift Creek flood control and sediment management project located east of Everson near Sumas Mountain. A large landslide on the mountain deposits naturally-occurring asbestos and metals in the creek bed sediment.

En español

Swift Creek facing east towards Sumas Mountain, April 2019

Current Status

Ecology and Whatcom County invite you to review and comment on the following documents for the Swift Creek Project:
  • Swift Creek Action Plan: this plan describes flood control and sediment management actions to take place in the Swift Creek watershed.
  • Consent Decree: this is a legal agreement between the state of Washington, Ecology, Whatcom County, and other parties that requires Whatcom County to:
    • Develop detailed design documents.
    • Construct and operate the project. 
    • Manage deposited sediment.
    • Perform regular maintenance and monitoring.
    • Control future use and access.
    • Purchase additional property or easements, as may be required.​
  • Public Participation Plan:  this document explains how people can become involved in the project.

What happens next?

  • Oct. 7 – Nov. 5, 2019: 30-day public comment period.
  • Oct. 9, 2019: Public meeting.
  • 2019 (ongoing): Begin project design and implementation.
  • Summer 2020: Whatcom County will hold a public comment period on a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for sediment storage repositories.
  • 2021 – 2023: Seek additional funding from the Legislature during 2021 – 2023 budget planning for project completion.

Swift Creek Action Plan

The Swift Creek Action Plan creates a flood control and sediment management system that is designed to reduce risk from naturally-occurring asbestos and metals in Swift Creek sediment that harm, or could potentially harm, humans and the environment.

See map below for an overview of the Swift Creek Action Plan's engineered controls.

Summary of Action Plan Components

Swift Creek Action Plan engineered controls diagram (click image above to enlarge or download a text explanation)

Background

Location

Swift Creek is in the northeastern lowlands of Whatcom County. The South Fork of Swift Creek originates from the toe (downslope end) of an ongoing, slowly moving landslide on Sumas Mountain. Swift Creek flows generally westward before joining the Sumas River near the city of Nooksack.

Swift Creek watershed map (Click image above to enlarge or download a text explanation.)

Landslide, flooding, and sediment

The 225-acre landslide on Sumas Mountain has resulted in a large amount of sediment containing naturally-occurring asbestos (NOA) and metals continuously filling up the creek bed. For several decades Swift Creek has been dredged to manage sediment and limit downstream flooding. When the deposited sediment material dries, NOA in the sediment can become airborne and present a risk to human health and the environment. The main concern with the metals in the sediment is the impact to plants on land and aquatic life. 

Sumas Mountain landslide facing north, not to scale (click image above to enlarge or download text explanation.)
Sumas Mountain landslide facing east
Landslide material in Swift Creek containing naturally-occurring asbestos and metals.

Documents

Select from the tabs below to view Swift Creek Project documents.

During active public comment periods, physical copies of documents will be available for review at:

Whatcom County Library (Everson)
104 Kirsch Drive, Everson

360-966-5100

Department of Ecology Bellingham Office
913 Squalicum Way, Unit 101, Bellingham

360-255-4400
(please call for an appointment)

En español

El Departamento de Ecología del Estado de Washington y el Departamento de Obras Públicas del Condado de Whatcom están colaborando en el proyecto de control de inundaciones y manejo de sedimentos de Swift Creek ubicado al este de Everson, cerca de Sumas Mountain.