North Santiam River Basin Study

Science Center Objects

Between 1999 and 2015, the USGS monitored water-quality conditions in the North Santiam River Basin. Streamflow conditions are still monitored.

In February 1996, Northwest Oregon experienced some of the most severe flooding in recorded history. Heavy, warm rain fell on above average snowpack in the Cascade Range of the Willamette River Basin, resulting in 50- to 100-year flood events in many area rivers. The North Santiam River at Mehama crested at nearly 2½ feet above flood stage on the afternoon of February 7, 1996. Although the water level returned to normal within a few weeks, the water quality was affected for months to come. 

In 1998, a monitoring program was initiated to better understand the sources and transport of sediment that causes high turbidity within the North Santiam River Basin. The project was a cooperative effort of the City of Salem, the USGS, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In anticipation of future events like the 1996 flooding, the agencies continuously monitored hydrologic and water-quality conditions throughout the basin until 2015.

The data collected by this program are available online were used by the cooperators for operational decisions, ongoing research projects, and basin management.