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: 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...

Date published: January 1, 2004
Status: Completed

Columbia Basin Irrigation

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), in its 2000 Biological Opinion for the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project (CBIP) in eastern Washington, asked for a determination of whether pesticides are present in irrigation return flows at levels that may harm or adversely affect salmon and steelhead species listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. As the major resource manager...

Contacts: Robert W Black
Date published: January 3, 2003
Status: Completed

Groundwater Pesticide

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing a rule requiring States to have a formal plan for the pesticides atrazine, simazine, alachlor, metolachlor, and other pesticides of concern in order to continue using them.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), the lead agency for a pesticide plan for Washington, will need an assessment of ground-water...

Contacts: Robert W Black
Date published: January 1, 2003
Status: Completed


SUBASE Bangor is a 6,785 acre Navy installation located on Hood Canal in Kitsap County, Washington. Currently it serves as the home port to eight Ohio-class TRIDENT missile submarines, but historically the site served as a Naval Ammunition Depot. As a result of the historical activities at Bangor, numerous contaminated sites have been identified. Contaminants include ordnance chemicals, trace...

Date published: January 15, 2002
Status: Completed

Sammamish River Basin

Understanding the extent of contaminants in urban rivers is key to assessment of human health risks and the restoration of endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest. This equally true for the Sammamish River Basin in northeast King County, Washington, where a new wastewater treatment plant is being considered by King County. Information is needed about the water quality of the Sammamish River...

Contacts: Lonna M Frans
Date published: January 12, 2002
Status: Completed

Puyallup River Basin

The Puyallup River Basin in western Washington is drained by the Puyallup River and its main tributaries, the White and Carbon Rivers. The basin supports several salmon runs and hosts a variety of recreational activities. Communities in the basin include Tacoma, Puyallup, Fife, Sumner, Orting, Auburn, and the Puyallup and Muckleshoot Tribes. The types of land use in the basin vary from forests...

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),...

Date published: January 1, 2002
Status: Completed

McChord Air Force Base

During the investigation of a jet fuel bulk storage area, trichloroethene (TCE) was detected in ground water beneath McChord Air Force Base, near Tacoma, Washington. Monitoring wells were installed on the base to determine the extent of the TCE. In March 2000, after six monitoring wells were installed in the residential area to the west of the base, TCE was detected at concentrations above the...

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