Dogs sniff out bacteria contamination in Kirkland waterways



Posted on May 12, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Updated Monday, May 19 at 8:32 AM

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- The City of Kirkland is calling in the dogs to help figure out a bacteria problem in their waterways.

Juanita Creek is a five mile stretch of water that moves through the heart of Kirkland before flowing into Lake Washington. Over the next two days the city's Department of Public Works is taking water samples along the route to try and determine if and where harmful bacteria is getting in.

"We are vigilant about keeping our waters safe in Kirkland," said Ryean-Marie Tuomisto of Public Works, "and we need to monitor and protect it as best we can."
With that in mind, the Kirkland and King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks have hired specially trained dogs from Environmental Canine Services Inc.  The dogs will specifically be searching for human fecal matter.

"The dogs can detect through scent, the bacteria," said Karen Reynolds of Environmental Canine Service Inc. "It's important to clean up the bacteria, because it not only affects swimming areas and the safety of people, but it also affects shellfish and fish in the water."
Crews will collect water samples from both Kirkland's Juanita Creek and Seattle's Thornton creek. The sample will then be brought to the parking lot at Juanita Beach in Kirkland. That's when Molly, a border collie, and Crush, an Australian cattle dog, go to work.

"The dogs will go to each water bucket and if it's contaminated with human fecal matter, the dogs will alert us." said Tuomisto.

The marked samples will then go to the lab for further analysis. In the meantime, crews will go back to the locations where the contamination was found and look for the source.

"Most contamination comes from leaking spetic tanks, or faulty piping," said Tuomisto.

KING 5's Gary Chittim contributed to this report