OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is asking anglers to do their part to clean up the Samish Bay watershed by using the portable toilets near Samish River fishing areas.

New signs will go up next week in those areas advising anglers of pollution problems in the bay, some of which have been attributed to human waste.

Bob Everitt, WDFW’s regional director for northwest Washington, said he has received anecdotal reports of human excrement along banks of the Samish River and wants anglers to be aware of public concerns.

“While none of the studies of pollution in the bay point specifically to anglers as a problem, we all need to do what we can to improve water quality in the bay,” Everitt said. “Samish Bay is important for fish and shellfish, and WDFW is a partner in a broad-based clean-up effort involving a number of state and county agencies.”

In July, Skagit County coordinated with WDFW to add two more portable toilets for anglers who fish along the river bank, Everitt said. One is located near the mouth of the Samish River, the other at the department’s North  Samish access area just east of Interstate 5.

“These facilities are a short walk from the main fishing areas,” he said. “There’s really no excuse for just heading off into the bushes.”

A recent study conducted by Oregon State University found that human waste accounted for 17 percent of the fecal coliform sampled in the Samish watershed. The remainder was attributed primarily to birds and cattle.

Everitt said that Skagit County has made substantial progress in addressing leaky septic systems in the area, but said there could be a variety of sources of human pollution in the Samish Bay watershed.

“I just know that’s everyone needs to do their part in this effort, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

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