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: January 3, 2008
Status: Completed

Green River Geomorphic Responses

In the Pacific Northwest, water, sediment, and vegetation primarily determine the form of large river channels and shape their ecosystems. Dams on rivers affect all of these elements, with consequences for habitats and aquatic species. Understanding how water, sediment, and vegetation interact in habitats is key to managing rivers. In the case of the middle Green River in King County,...

Date published: January 1, 2007
Status: Completed

Yakima River Temperature Model

In the Yakima and Naches Rivers, water temperature is often a limiting factor in the survival of salmon during spawning and rearing. The Bureau of Reclamation uses a computer model to assess the effects of reservoir-management scenarios on temperatures and the success of salmon restoration. To provide the daily maximum and long-term water temperature data needed by the model, the Bureau of...

Contacts: Mark Mastin
Date published: January 3, 2005
Status: Completed

Elwha River

The formerly free-flowing Elwha River was famous for the diversity and size of its salmon runs. After the construction of the Elwha Dam (1912) and the Glines Canyon Dam (1927), fish lost access to more than 70 miles of mainstem river and tributary habitat. As a result, all 10 runs of native Elwha salmon and sea-going trout declined sharply. Restoration of the Elwha River ecosystem will be...

Date published: January 2, 2005
Status: Completed

Multispectral imaging, Puyallup River

In the past, levees have been built along the river banks of the Puyallup River to prevent floodwater from damaging roads, buildings, farms, and other areas in the floodplain. Because levees can worsen flooding by creating backwater effects or reducing floodplain storage, Pierce County is planning to remove current levees and build new ones further away from the river channels.

To help...

Contacts: Robert W Black
Date published: January 10, 2004
Status: Completed

Satus Creek

After irrigating croplands, water returned to creeks and rivers in the Yakima River Basin can contribute compounds and materials that affect the quality of habitat. On lands of the Yakama Nation, Satus Creek receives water from the North Drain that brings with it sediment, nutrients, bacteria, and pesticides, degrading the aquatic habitat and posing a barrier for endangered fish in the creek...

Date published: January 5, 2004
Status: Completed

Geomorphic Mapping, Dosewallips River

Located on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, the Dosewallips River drains about 100 square miles into Dabob Bay, an arm of Hood Canal. The Dosewallips is home to two species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act: Puget Sound chinook and Hood Canal summer chum.

To help the Port Gamble S'Klallam tribe protect and enhance the aquatic habitat of the...

Contacts: Joseph Jones
Date published: January 5, 2003
Status: Completed

Methow River Basin

The Methow River Basin, located in North Central Washington in Okanogan County, is well known for its natural beauty, wildlife, outdoor recreation, and rural lifestyle. The Methow River and its tributaries are home to upper Columbia summer steelhead and spring Chinook salmon, which are both listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and bull trout, which is listed as...

Date published: January 14, 2002
Status: Completed


Located in northwestern Washington State, the Dungeness River and its tributaries drain about 200 square miles, mostly in the Olympic Mountains to the south. After emerging from the mountains, the river flows for about 11 miles northward across an area with a shallow water-table aquifer before emptying into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Water in the Dungeness River and the shallow aquifer are...

Date published: January 10, 2002
Status: Completed

White River Videography

The quantity and quality of instream habitat is one of many factors affecting aquatic organisms such as anadromous and non-anadromous salmonids. The measurement and assessment of instream habitat has been the focus of many habitat monitoring and restoration projects throughout the State of Washington. On-the-ground habitat monitoring is extremely important for specific variables and specific...

Contacts: Robert W Black
Date published: January 2, 2002
Status: Completed

Quinault Indian Reservation

The rivers and forests of the Olympic Peninsula have long been important sources of natural resources. For the Quinault Indian Nation of the southwestern Olympic Peninsula, forests and fisheries have been the cultural and economic mainstay for thousands of years. To protect and restore these dwindling resources, the Quinault Indian Nation is undertaking a science-based approach for land...

Contacts: Jim E O'Connor
Date published: January 5, 2001
Status: Completed

Water Resources Inventory Area 1 Watershed Management

In recent years, increased use of ground- and surface-water supplies in watersheds of Washington State has created concern that insufficient in-stream flows remain for fish and other users. In response, the Washington State legislature passed the Watershed Management Act of 1998 (ESHB 2514; see also Ch.90.82 RCW - Watershed Planning), which encourages and provides some funding for local...

Date published: January 4, 2001
Status: Completed

Cedar River Watershed

The Cedar River watershed provides two-thirds of the water supply for the greater Seattle metropolitan region, in addition to being home to numerous terrestrial and aquatic organisms such as salmon, some of which are Federally listed as threatened species. The City of Seattle is establishing monitoring plans for the Cedar River watershed to effectively manage the resource. A critical component...

Contacts: Robert W Black