Nooksack Tribe

Nooksack Tribe

The Nooksack Water Program is responsible for maintenance, repair and improvements to approximately 112 connections throughout five Tribal neighborhood water systems in Washington state.

Environment

The Nooksack River winds its way through the northwest corner of Washington State. The area receives seasonally high rainfall and deep snow packs, and as a result the river is prone to flooding. In some years excessive flooding can occur as a result of a weather system known as a ‘Pineapple Express’, which brings wind and rain from the central Pacific to the region.

Challenge

In the mid-1990s high pollution levels were detected to be present in the lower Nooksack River basin, threatening important shellfish stocks. Stream bank erosion, leaking septic tanks and most significantly, agricultural run-off were all contributors to the degradation of the river water. With contamination levels violating water quality standards, shellfish beds were voluntarily closed for harvesting and various water quality improvement initiatives were put into place.

Solution

Through the implementation of best management practices in the following years, fecal coliform bacteria levels dropped and in 2008, Washington State Department of Ecology removed three main tributary segments from its impaired waters list.

Ongoing water quality testing is being conducted to monitor pollutant levels and ensure the wellbeing of the Nooksack River Basin.

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