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: 45
Date published: January 1, 2011
Status: Completed

Lake Roosevelt-Upper Columbia River

Lake Roosevelt was formed on the Columbia River by the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam, and extends a total of 217 km to within 24 km of Canada The lake is heavily contaminated with trace elements that were discharged as slag material from a smelter in Canada; approximately 360 metric tons were discharged per day from 1900 to 1998. A study by the USGS reported that Lake Roosevelt bed...

Date published: January 1, 2009
Status: Completed

WSDOT Stormwater Monitoring

The Washington State Department of Transportation, or WSDOT, monitors the water quality of runoff from state highways and other transportation facilities under their National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The NPDES permit requires WSDOT to make sure that the stormwater meets Clean Water Act and other regulations designed to restore and protect our country's water...

Contacts: Rich Sheibley
Date published: December 2, 2008
Status: Completed

Navigable Rivers in Washington

Determining whether a stream or river in Washington is "navigable" is important because it helps establish state ownership of the "bed and shore" of navigable waterways as stated in the Washington State constitution. State-owned lands are managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Because the constitution does not explicitly define what criteria should be used to...

Date published: January 1, 2008
Status: Completed

DOH Nitrates

Ground water is a significant source of drinking water in Washington State, and keeping it free of contamination is important for public health. Public supply wells are frequently tested for nitrate concentrations, but private wells are tested only when they are drilled. This limits information about the potential exposure to elevated nitrate concentrations in private wells.

To help the...

Contacts: Lonna M Frans
Date published: January 2, 2007
Status: Completed

San Juan County

Aquifers of the San Juan Islands, which are the principal source of fresh water, are commonly intruded by seawater at near-shoreline locations (less than one mile from the shore). Because the demand for ground water has escalated in recent years due to population growth and is expected to continue, the progression of seawater intrusion and areas most susceptible to future seawater intrusion...

Date published: January 2, 2006
Status: Completed

Nitrate in GW, Lower Umatilla Basin, OR

Stretching from Pendleton, Oreg., to the Columbia River, the Lower Umatilla Basin covers 550 square miles. Concentrations of nitrate in the basin's ground water frequently exceed national drinking-water standards. The basin's complex ground-water system is exposed to five human-related sources of nitrate: septic tanks, feedlots, explosives, fertilizer, and land applications of food waste....

Date published: January 1, 2006
Status: Completed

Fort Lewis

Fort Lewis is a 135-square-mile U.S. Army post in Pierce County, Washington, located just south of Tacoma. The Environmental and Natural Resources Division of Fort Lewis wishes to evaluate the effectiveness of the current and potential remediation activities at the Logistics Center, a regional maintenance facility at Fort Lewis where pump-and-treat systems are being used to remediate...

Date published: January 2, 2005
Status: Completed

Nooksack River Ground-Water Bacteria

The lower Nooksack River Basin is located in Whatcom County, in the northwestern part of Washington. Within areas of the basin, the ground-water aquifer is shallow. Knowledge of how the surface water and the aquifer interact, and how this interaction affects the transport of bacteria and nitrates from agricultural fields to the ground-water system, is important to residents of the basin. This...

Date published: January 8, 2004
Status: Completed

Urban Pesticide

Salmon and other aquatic life in the Puget Sound Basin need a healthy habitat to survive and to recover from historical declines, both in urban and agricultural settings. Yet, USGS studies in 1997 and 1998 found that more pesticides were found in urban streams than in agricultural streams, and that 9 out of 10 samples from urban streams had concentrations of insecticides exceeding levels...

Contacts: Lonna M Frans
Date published: January 7, 2004
Status: Completed

Puget Parks

Snow and ice are major sources of water for plants and animals in the parks and forests of the Puget Sound Basin, including Olympic, North Cascades, and Mt. Rainier National Parks, and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Olympic National Forests. In the North Cascades National Park alone, there are more than 300 small glaciers that feed 245 mountain lakes and a myriad of streams, wetlands, and aquifers....

Date published: January 6, 2004
Status: Completed

Columbia Basin GWMA

More than 80 percent of drinking water in the mid-Columbia Basin comes from ground water. In Adams, Franklin, and Grant Counties, nitrate concentrations in water from about 20 percent of all drinking-water wells exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant level for nitrate. The three counties jointly formed the Columbia Basin Ground Water Management Area (GWMA) in...

Contacts: Lonna M Frans
Date published: January 3, 2004
Status: Completed

Lake Whatcom

Lake Whatcom, a large, natural lake in Whatcom County, is a source of drinking water for about 86,000 in the Bellingham area and a place for recreation. Elevated levels of mercury have been found in fish and sediment sampled from the lake. Possible sources of the mercury include atmospheric deposition, tributary discharges, landfills, dumpsites, and local mining operations.

To serve the...