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Barker water quality declines by 358 percent

"While the salmon might not notice anything amiss, people are encouraged to stay out of Barker Creek.Central Kitsap's Barker Creek suffered a 358 percent decline in water quality during 1999, according to the Bremerton-Kitsap County Health District, the largest decline of the 43 streams ranked.Barker Creek ranked 38th out of 43.Levels of fecal coliform in the creek rose dramatically during 1999, though health district spokesman Scott Daniels said there was no specific reason for the increase.Daniels said a variety of factors contribute to changes in the levels of bacteria in the streams, including rainfall, failing sewage systems, farm animal waste mismanagement, pet waste and stormwater run-off. For lakes, like Island Lake and Wildcat Lake, water fowl contribute to water contamination.Mary Bertrand, chairwoman of the Chums of Barker Creek, requested a meeting with the Health District, which will likely take place the last week of September, to discuss the results of the study.We need to get a handle on, if it's a bad situation, how can we make it better, said Bertrand, whose Chums advocate for protection and enhancement of Barker Creek. I really do feel these test results are important. We can learn from them to improve the situation.Though Island Lake is the headwater of Barker Creek, Bertrand said she could not say whether water fowl contributed to the increase in fecal coliform in Barker Creek. There are very, very poor stormwater facilities along the corridor, she said. Mosher and Clear creeks also ranked poorly compared to other county streams. Mosher Creek tied Daniels Creek for 36th and Clear Creek ranked 34th. Along with Barker Creek, Mosher Creek was one of the county's 10 most contaminated in 1999.Big Beef Creek, however, ranked among the county's 10 cleanest streams. It came in eighth among the 43 streams tested in the study.Seabeck Creek ranked ninth and Chico Creek placed 14th.All of these streams become more of a health concern with increased fecal coliform levels, Daniels said, though he said drinking from even the cleanest stream is inadvisable.Endangered salmon species are not usually impacted by the bacteria, as a general rule, Daniels said. But an over-abundance of fecal coliform could indicate the presence of other bacteria in the stream. "

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