Ferndale couple fined for polluting Drayton watershed

By Steve Guntli

The Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) recently fined a Ferndale couple for polluting the Drayton Harbor watershed.

Jim and Victoria Snydar own a property near California Creek, outside of Ferndale. The DOE is fining the couple $12,000 for failing to store livestock manure properly.

The penalty cited a lack of adequate cover for manure storage, improper manure spreading and accumulating manure on areas that slope down to a body of water.

“The problems on this property are significant, but can be addressed with commonly used practices,” said Doug Allen, manager of DOE’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.”

Bacteria from manure can pose a direct threat to human health, either through direct contact or by contaminating shellfish. The Drayton Harbor watershed has struggled with high levels of fecal coliform bacteria for years, which continues to limit the output of shellfish.

Animal leavings were running downhill into California Creek, which feeds into Drayton Harbor. DOE also found animals had direct access to the creek, meaning they could walk around or defecate directly into the water.

The DOE has cited the Snydars on several other occasions, after water testers found elevated levels of fecal bacteria in the water near their property. In March 2014, water at the site was 85 times the state limit for pollution. One month later, the site was down to 46 times the state limit. Allen said his department has made repeated attempts to work with the Snydars to alleviate the problem. Penalties from the DOE can be appealed.

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