Watershed Watchers

Does your neighborhood have drainage, flooding, erosion or water quality issues? Take the first step toward solving these stormwater issues by monitoring and reporting conditions in your area before and after large rain events.

What is Stormwater Runoff?

It is the rain and melting snow that flows off streets, rooftops, lawns, parking lots and other surfaces. The flowing water carries salt, sand, soil, pesticides, fertilizers, leaves and grass clippings, oil, litter, and many other pollutants into nearby waterways.

In developed areas such as Birch Bay, much of the land surface is covered by buildings and pavement, which do not allow water to soak into the ground. Instead, storm sewers are used to carry the large amounts of runoff to nearby waterways. Storm sewers are simply pipes laid underground, often below streets. Drains or catch basins located along curbs and in parking areas collect the runoff, which then flows directly into nearby streams and out to Birch Bay. A common misconception is that water running off streets goes into a sewage treatment plant. It does not. In fact, stormwater usually receives no treatment.

Birch Bay Watershed Watchers Program

WHO: Community volunteers living in the Birch Bay and Terrell Creek watersheds who are concerned about the condition of public and private stormwater systems. Year-round residents who enjoy frequent neighborhood walks and live in areas with flooding/drainage issues are strongly encouraged to participate.

WHAT: Watershed Watcher volunteers will be trained to monitor local roadways, ditches, creeks, outfalls, beaches and bluffs for problems associated with poor drainage, pollution/dumping, lack of maintenance or inadequate stormwater infrastructure. Proactive monitoring before and after large precipitation events will help us identify:

  1. Maintenance needs (i.e. cleaning out ditches/catch basins)
  2. Chronic flooding and erosion problems
  3. Water quality or pollution problems

WHEN: Training will be conducted in late September 2018 for a monitoring season that will last from approximately October 2018 – April 2019. Monitoring takes place before, during and after storm events.

WHERE: Monitoring will occur in and around the Birch Bay and Terrell Creek watersheds where flooding, erosion, drainage or water quality issues occur.

WHY: Using the data collected by the Watershed Watchers Team, we can work together to improve stormwater infrastructure and best management practices that keep our water clean and roadways safe. Problem areas will be evaluated by Whatcom County for repair or maintenance. The training will also provide residents with the knowledge and skills necessary to keep drainage systems functioning during storm events and avoid damage to personal property or roadways (i.e. cleaning debris off catch basin grates and ditches).

HOW: Sign up to be a Watershed Watcher using the form below! No background or prior monitoring experience is needed to participate.