Padden Creek sewer spill cleanup, testing progressing quickly

City hopes to reopen waterway by the weekend

March 01, 2016 - by Amy Cloud, Communications and Outreach

​Padden Creek, which has been closed between 17th and Padden Estuary since last week’s sewer spill, will likely reopen to the public before this weekend. Padden Creek had been closed within three hours of the discovering the spill, which occurred when a contractor inadvertently misdirected wastewater while working on a sewer main replacement project.

City of Bellingham crews have been working to reduce fecal coliform bacteria in the Creek, aided by rains which helped flush the Creek and dilute the sewage. Actions to clean Padden Creek include:

  • Pumping out water from the tunnel (where Padden Creek flowed before it was “daylighted” earlier this year) to the sanitary sewer;
  • Increasing water flow from Lake Padden into the creek;
  • Immediate and continuous surveying of the Creek to assess health of fish and macroinvertebrates – which found
    • No dead or “distressed” fish (i.e. fish were behaving normally, not circling near the water’s surface) and
    • Healthy macroinvertebrates
  • Daily water sampling, which shows
    • Bacteria levels are dropping rapidly.

Based on the results of clean-up and flushing, it appears Padden Creek will be safe to reopen within a few days. In the meantime, the City’s contractor is working longer days, beginning at 7 a.m., to continue the sewer main replacement project.

For more information on the event and answers to Frequently Asked Questions email

Media Contact

​Amy Cloud, Communications and Outreach
City of Bellingham – Public Works
(360) 778-7912

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