Washington Water Science Center

Land and Water Resource Change

WAWSC activities related to ​l​ and ​water ​r​esource ​change provide unbiased science and tools ​to evaluate, predict, and plan for the effects of climate and land use changes on all components of the hydrologic system including aquatic ecosystems. A particular focus is on long-term monitoring of the annual accumulation, ablation, and net glacier mass balance at South Cascade Glacier, and comparing these results to other glaciers in different climate regimes. The implications for changes in snowpack and glacier melt are vast and include the availability of water for agricultural irrigation, increased wildfire susceptibility from reduced soil moisture, and diminished cold water contributions from snow and glacier melt that may affect stream temperatures.

Filter Total Items: 13
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 28, 2019
Status: Active

Coarse sediment delivery and routing in the White River

The Issue: Ongoing channel aggradation has reduced flow conveyance along the lower White River, increasing the flood risk in urban-suburban areas. A refined understanding of the delivery, transport and deposition of sediment in the White River, and how those processes may be influenced by climate and existing dam operations, is necessary in order to plan for future flood...

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: December 21, 2017
Status: Active

Glaciers and Snowpack

Glaciers, snow, and ice sheets are important components of the Earth's water and climate. They respond to and indicate changes in climate, as well as exerting an influence on global and regional climate. They also have an effect on water resources, serving as natural reservoirs. Measuring changes in the size and volume of glaciers and snowpacks provides one direct way of knowing what kind of...

Date published: September 21, 2017
Status: Completed

RRAWFLOW: Rainfall-Response Aquifer and Watershed Flow Model

RRAWFLOW: Rainfall-Response Aquifer and Watershed Flow Model

Contacts: Andrew J Long
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...

Date published: January 2, 2014
Status: Completed

Recharge and frozen ground in the PNW

The Issue: Seasonally frozen ground occurs over approximately one-third of the contiguous United States, and the extent and duration of frozen ground have been decreasing as a result of global warming. In semi-arid regions such as the Columbia Plateau and Snake River Plain in the Pacific Northwest, nearly all natural recharge occurs between October and March when intermittent...

Contacts: Mark Mastin
Date published: January 1, 2013
Status: Completed

Consumptive Use

The Issue: Fresh groundwater withdrawals for irrigation from 66 principal aquifers in the United States comprised approximately three-fourths of total groundwater withdrawals in the year 2000. The magnitude of these withdrawals is certainly substantial but difficult to quantify because few states actually monitor groundwater withdrawals for irrigation. Water-resource managers...

Date published: January 9, 2011
Status: Completed

White River Basin and Lake Tapps Water Quality

The Issue: Water diverted from the upper White River to maintain water levels in Lake Tapps impacts flows and fish resources in the White River. In the lower White River, releases of warm water from Lake Tapps for hydropower generation frequently lowered concentrations of dissolved oxygen and increased water temperatures at river mile 1.8. In the White River diversion reach, has segments that...

Date published: January 5, 2008
Status: Completed

Potholes Reservoir

Managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), water is diverted from the Columbia River into Potholes Reservoir and the canal system for delivery to irrigators.

Through the USGS/USBR collaborative Watershed and River Systems Management Program (WARSMP), the USBR will be developing a river-management model to improve the efficiency of water distribution. An important input needed for...

Contacts: Mark Mastin
Date published: January 1, 2005
Status: Completed

PNW Tribal Water Resources Assessment

Native American Tribes in western Washington need comprehensive water data in order to protect, restore, and manage their water resources. To understand the factors affecting water quality and quantity on a regional scale, the data must be collected and managed through a systematic, coordinated approach.

To help the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) to design a coordinated...

Date published: January 11, 2002
Status: Completed

Hydrologic Urban Indicators

Storm water, the rainfall that runs off urban surfaces such as rooftops, pavement, and lawns, can affect streams in a number of ways. As urban development increases, storm water can run quickly into streams, increasing the volume and peak flows and reducing summer flows. Sediment and other contaminants can also be carried into the streams.

The Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE),...