Washington Water Science Center

Water Quality

WAWSC water quality activities provide a better understanding of water-quality conditions in WA and help predict potential changes and risks associated with observed water-quality conditions. These activities include identifying whether the abundance of aquatics contaminants and the exposure to them are getting better or worse over time; and how natural features and human activities affect those conditions. We also provide information and tools that assist facility managers develop strategies to control the release of hazardous chemicals into the environment, and to more effectively mitigate damages caused by past discharges. Tools developed by the WAWSC include predictive models, flow path models, and mass balance models that can be utilized by resource managers to more effectively evaluate the sources, fate, and transport of dispersed groundwater and surface water contamination in drinking water supplies and in aquatic ecosystems.

Filter Total Items: 49
Date published: December 20, 2017
Status: Active

Yakima Nitrates

The Issue: Links between nitrate application to the land surface and measured nitrate concentrations in groundwater or surface water are poorly understood in the Yakima River basin due to the variety of potential nitrate sources. Fertilizer-intensive irrigated agriculture has been prevalent in the basin for decades, and since 1994 the growth of dairy operations has resulted in numerous liquid-...

Contacts: Robert W Black
Date published: January 26, 2017
Status: Completed

Uranium in Groundwater

The Issue: Groundwater monitoring in northeastern Washington State has shown elevated levels of naturally occurring uranium in several community water systems and in private wells. A better understanding of the occurrence of uranium in groundwater along with outreach products that communicate the risk to area residents are important in order to reduce uranium exposure, protect...

Contacts: Sue Kahle
Date published: January 5, 2017
Status: Completed

National Parks North Coast and Cascades Network Critical Loads

Nutrients such as nitrogen are essential for plant and animal growth and nourishment, but overabundance can cause adverse effects. Excess amounts of nitrogen from the atmosphere can cause a lake to go through eutrophication, the process in which excess nitrogen triggers a series of events that cause a lake to become fatally low in dissolved oxygen. Alpine lakes are especially sensitive to...

Contacts: Rich Sheibley
Date published: January 1, 2017
Status: Completed

River Loads into Puget Sound

The Issue: Puget Sound, WA, is the second largest estuary in the United States and its unique geology, climate, and nutrient-rich waters sustain biologically-productive terrestrial, coastal, and marine habitats. Development and associated human activities have significantly degraded the Sound, causing declines in fish and wildlife populations, water-quality issues, and losses...

Contacts: Kathy Conn
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 1, 2017
Status: Completed

Coal Transport

The Issue: Federal and state natural resource managers and Tribes are concerned with the environmental impacts from unintentional release of coal dust from train cars during transport through the Northwest. Proposed new coal export terminals in Washington and Oregon would substantially increase rail traffic through the Northwest and the release of coal dust to the environment...

Contacts: Robert W Black
Date published: January 1, 2016
Status: Active

Lake Spokane

The Issue: Phosphorus from many different sources has caused water quality problems for Lake Spokane in eastern Washington by promoting the growth of algae and aquatic plants. Phosphorus comes from municipal and industrial point-sources upstream of Lake Spokane, as well as non-point sources like septic tanks, agricultural fields, and wildlife. Lake Spokane was listed by the...

Date published: January 1, 2014
Status: Completed

Vancouver Lake Nutrient Budget

The Issue: Vancouver Lake in Clark County, WA has been experiencing water quality problems for decades. Recently, harmful algal blooms have been taking place in summer resulting in closures of the lake to swimming/water contact. One potential cause of these algal blooms in the increased loading of nutrients to the lake; however, there is currently little known about the amount and timing of...

Contacts: Rich Sheibley
Date published: January 10, 2013
Status: Completed

NAS Whidbey Transport Model

The Issue: The carcinogenic compound 1,4-dioxane was recently (2003) found in groundwater in the vicinity of the former landfill at Area 6, Operable Unit 1, Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Island County, Washington. The current extent and potential for further migration of 1,4-dioxane in the vicinity of Area 6 are not well known. Also at area 6, the Navy is exploring...

Date published: January 5, 2013
Status: Active

Sources of Mercury in Sinclair Inlet Project

The sediments in Sinclair Inlet within Puget Sound, Washington have elevated concentrations of a number of organic compounds and elements including mercury. Following remediation actions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), it was determined that there is insufficient information to determine whether remedial action taken at OU B Marine with...

Contacts: Kathy Conn
Date published: January 2, 2013
Status: Completed

Phosphorus SPARROW Model for the Yakima River

The Issue - During the 2004-07 irrigation season, nutrient concentrations in the lower Yakima River were high enough at certain times and locations to support the abundant growth of periphytic algae and macrophytes which resulted in large daily fluctuations in dissolved oxygen concentrations and pH levels that exceeded the Washington State water-quality standards for these...

Contacts: Norman Buccola
Date published: January 1, 2012
Status: Completed

Stormwater Microarray Study

Evaluation of Juvenile Trout Microarray Tools in the Development of an Ambient Monitoring Approach for Urban Streams

Contacts: Robert W Black