Washington Water Science Center

Aquatic Ecosystems and Habitats

WAWSC activities related to aquatic ecosystems and habitats provides unbiased science, tools, and decision support to federal, state and tribal natural resource managers to help them better manage aquatic habitats needed to support species of cultural and economic value with consideration of water use needs for human consumption, irrigation and hydropower energy production. Studies performed by the WAWSC inform how changes in land cover and water use affect the timing and magnitude of river flows and sediment transport and the subsequent impact on the abundance and location of specific types of aquatic habitats. These studies generate data and predictive models to help resource managers evaluate management scenarios and restoration activities.

Filter Total Items: 36
Date published: May 14, 2021
Status: Active

Nooksack river basin continuous nitrate monitoring

The issue: Learning more about where and how much nitrates there are in the Nooksack river

How USGS will help: Provide continuous nitrate concentration data at three locations. Provide validation
water samples analyzing for nitrate concentration. Compute nitrate load estimates
using stream discharge data coupled with newly...

Date published: December 1, 2020
Status: Active

Assessment of Sediment Quality and Volume behind Enloe Dam

The Issue:

The Enloe Dam, a 100-yr old structure on the Similkameen River in Washington State, has not produced hydropower since 1958 and options are being considered for potential removal of the dam. The concentrations of sediment contaminants (primarily trace elements from a long history of mining and smelting operations in the US and Canada) trapped by Enloe Dam are...

Date published: April 20, 2020
Status: Active

Water Temperature Mapping in the Snoqualmie and Skykomish River Basins

Over the past two decades water temperatures in the Snoqualmie and Skykomish River basins has frequently exceeded temperature criteria established to protect Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and bull trout. These rivers combine in Monroe, WA to form the Snohomish River, the second largest producer of Chinook salmon in Puget Sound. The effects of high water...

Date published: April 7, 2020
Status: Active

Assess the utility of a regional aquifer system groundwater model to inform the USGS National Hydrologic Model

The Issue: In Washington State, groundwater (GW) inflow to streams, or baseflow, is essential for maintaining aquatic habitats, and for out-of-stream uses such as irrigated agriculture during the typically dry summers. However, the National Hydrologic Model (NHM) currently is most suited to predicting total daily streamflow. 

This project aims to assess the NHM’s...

Contacts: Andrew J Long
Date published: May 30, 2019
Status: Active

Quantifying suspended-sediment load and transport characteristics in the Calawah and Upper Bogachiel Rivers, Washington

The issue: Salmonid fisheries are an important cultural and economic activity and efforts to support a thriving fisheries industry remain a major priority for the Quileute Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. Land use changes can have a profound influence on basin sediment production with direct effects on fisheries (Madej and Ozaki, 2009). Studies are needed to improve...

Date published: May 28, 2019
Status: Active

Fine sediment infiltration in Chinook spawning gravels in the Sauk River Basin, Washington

The Issue: There is concern that inherently high finer-grained (small gravel, sand, and silt) sediment loads in the Sauk River system may adversely affect egg-to-fry survival of ESA-listed Chinook salmon in the Sauk River and lower Skagit River Basin. However, there are no quantitative data for the Sauk River basin to assess if fine sediment deposition and infiltration into...

Date published: February 20, 2018
Status: Active

Central Columbia Plateau - Yakima River Basin

The Central Columbia Plateau/Yakima River Basin (CCYK) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) study unit is located in Central Washington, USA. The study unit is dominated by intensive agricultural practices, with irrigated agriculture a common practice for crop production (see study area description). Due to the intensive...

Contacts: Robert W Black
Date published: February 14, 2018
Status: Active

Puget Sound Basin NAWQA

The Puget Sound Basin (PUGT) study unit of the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program encompasses a 13,700-square-mile area that drains to Puget Sound and adjacent marine waters. Included in this region are all or part of 13 counties in western Washington, as well as the headwaters of the Skagit River and part of the Nooksack River in British Columbia, Canada. The Puget Sound Basin...

Contacts: Robert W Black
Date published: January 25, 2018
Status: Active

Sauk River Sediment

Fine-grained sediments in the lower reach of the Sauk River are adversely affecting the health and spawning of Chinook salmon. Climate change and forestry practices have been proposed as suspected causes of a reported increase in sediment loading to the river.

To determine the amount and timing of suspended-sediment loading to the river and possible connections to adverse effects on...

Date published: January 25, 2018
Status: Active

Stillaguamish Emerging Contaminants

Emerging contaminants are a group of chemical compounds that generally include pharmaceuticals, personal-care products, surfactants, industrial and household chemicals, and food additives. Their presence in the environment is typically associated with discharges from wastewater treatment-plants (WWTP), on-site septic systems, and some animal production operations. They are of particular...

Contacts: Patrick Moran
Date published: December 8, 2017
Status: Completed

SR 530 Slide

In the immediate aftermath of the SR530 Landslide, the USGS supported first responders and decision-makers as a key member of the collaborative effort to monitor the stability of the landslide deposit and the associated impoundment of the North Fork Stillaguamish River during rescue operations. With the initial disaster response now over, longer-term questions have arisen regarding the...

Date published: January 1, 2017
Status: Completed

Regional Stormwater Monitoring Program Sampling

The Issue: The State of Washington issues Municipal Stormwater Permits to local governments in the Puget Sound region that require them to develop and implement a stormwater management program that reduces the discharge of pollutants and protects the quality of water in rivers, streams, lakes and Puget Sound. The permitees in partnership with the State need to measure whether...