A livestock owner faces a $12,000 penalty for polluting waterways that flow into California Creek in the Drayton Harbor watershed.
The property, located outside of Ferndale, is owned by Jim and Victoria Snydar.
The Department of Ecology issued the fine last week. Ecology is part of a county-wide effort to reduce fecal coliform bacteria in public waterways.
Bacteria from manure pollution can pose a risk to human health, through direct contact or by eating contaminated shellfish. High levels of fecal coliform bacteria continue to seasonally limit recreational and commercial shellfish harvest in Drayton Harbor.
The penalty cites lack of adequate covered manure storage, improper manure spreading, and accumulations of manure in pastures and confinement areas that slope to water bodies, as factors that led to discharges. In addition, the animals have had direct access to the stream.
“The problems on this property are significant, but can be addressed with commonly used practices,” said Doug Allen, manager of Ecology’s Bellingham field office. “Where livestock are confined to small areas that slope to a ditch or stream, extra care must be taken to avoid pollution.”
Ecology sampling consistently shows water with high concentrations of bacteria flowing off the property. The penalty cites two documented pollution discharges:
- March 3, 2014: Immediately downstream of the property, Ecology sampling found polluted water 85 times greater than the state limit.
- April 17, 2014: Immediately downstream of the property, Ecology sampling uncovered polluted water 46 times greater than the state limit.
Ecology inspectors contacted the property owners in 2010 in response to a citizen complaint about pollution. In 2014, Ecology issued a notice of violation followed by a compliance order earlier this year which required the Snydars to submit a plan to stop pollution. Opportunities for technical and financial assistance to correct the problems were included in all correspondence with the landowners.
“We’ve made repeated attempts to work with the Snydars to help them make changes that would prevent pollution,” said Allen. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve gotten to this point.”
Penalties and orders from Ecology may be appealed to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.