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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: 40

Updated classifications of flow permanence on streams in the Colville National Forest

The Issue: Streamflow permanence refers to the probability that a stream will lose surface flow (become a dry channel), as well as the timing, duration, and frequency of drying. Patterns of streamflow permanence drive important decisions regarding forest management and other land uses. The Colville National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (2019), for example, specifies riparian management...
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Updated classifications of flow permanence on streams in the Colville National Forest

The Issue: Streamflow permanence refers to the probability that a stream will lose surface flow (become a dry channel), as well as the timing, duration, and frequency of drying. Patterns of streamflow permanence drive important decisions regarding forest management and other land uses. The Colville National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (2019), for example, specifies riparian management...
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Quillayute River Temperature

The Issue: The Quillayute River supports habitat for migrating, spawning, and rearing steelhead and salmon. All six miles of the river are influenced by tides, which influence its stage, discharge, and exchange with groundwater. The Quillayute River, like many salmonid-bearing rivers in the Pacific Northwest, is projected to warm in the coming decades due to projected increases in atmospheric...
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Quillayute River Temperature

The Issue: The Quillayute River supports habitat for migrating, spawning, and rearing steelhead and salmon. All six miles of the river are influenced by tides, which influence its stage, discharge, and exchange with groundwater. The Quillayute River, like many salmonid-bearing rivers in the Pacific Northwest, is projected to warm in the coming decades due to projected increases in atmospheric...
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Puget Sound, WA Nutrient SPARROW Model

The Issue: Puget Sound watershed nutrient loads are known to have an impact on marine water quality along with wastewater treatment plants discharging to Puget Sound. To effectively reduce and control nutrient loads to the Sound, the Washington State Department of Ecology needs a regional watershed model that fits within their Puget Sound Nutrient Source Reduction Project’s management framework...
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Puget Sound, WA Nutrient SPARROW Model

The Issue: Puget Sound watershed nutrient loads are known to have an impact on marine water quality along with wastewater treatment plants discharging to Puget Sound. To effectively reduce and control nutrient loads to the Sound, the Washington State Department of Ecology needs a regional watershed model that fits within their Puget Sound Nutrient Source Reduction Project’s management framework...
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Analysis of USGS Surface Water Monitoring Networks

The issue: National interests in water information are important but challenging to incorporate into planning and operation of a monitoring network driven by local information needs. These interests include an understanding of the spatial variability in water availability across the United States, anthro-physical factors including climate and land use that affect water availability, and federal...
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Analysis of USGS Surface Water Monitoring Networks

The issue: National interests in water information are important but challenging to incorporate into planning and operation of a monitoring network driven by local information needs. These interests include an understanding of the spatial variability in water availability across the United States, anthro-physical factors including climate and land use that affect water availability, and federal...
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Nooksack river basin continuous nitrate monitoring

The issue: Learning more about where and how much nitrates there are in the Nooksack river basin. How USGS will help: Provide continuous nitrate concentration data at three locations. Provide validation water samples analyzing for nitrate concentration. Compute nitrate load estimates using stream discharge data coupled with newly collected nitrate concentration data.
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Nooksack river basin continuous nitrate monitoring

The issue: Learning more about where and how much nitrates there are in the Nooksack river basin. How USGS will help: Provide continuous nitrate concentration data at three locations. Provide validation water samples analyzing for nitrate concentration. Compute nitrate load estimates using stream discharge data coupled with newly collected nitrate concentration data.
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Assessment of Sediment Quality and Volume behind Enloe Dam

The Issue: The Enloe Dam, a 100-yr old structure on the Similkameen River in Washington State, has not produced hydropower since 1958 and options are being considered for potential removal of the dam. The concentrations of sediment contaminants (primarily trace elements from a long history of mining and smelting operations in the US and Canada) trapped by Enloe Dam are unknown and may be high...
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Assessment of Sediment Quality and Volume behind Enloe Dam

The Issue: The Enloe Dam, a 100-yr old structure on the Similkameen River in Washington State, has not produced hydropower since 1958 and options are being considered for potential removal of the dam. The concentrations of sediment contaminants (primarily trace elements from a long history of mining and smelting operations in the US and Canada) trapped by Enloe Dam are unknown and may be high...
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Water Temperature Mapping in the Snoqualmie and Skykomish River Basins

Over the past two decades water temperatures in the Snoqualmie and Skykomish River basins has frequently exceeded temperature criteria established to protect Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and bull trout. These rivers combine in Monroe, WA to form the Snohomish River, the second largest producer of Chinook salmon in Puget Sound. The effects of high water...
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Water Temperature Mapping in the Snoqualmie and Skykomish River Basins

Over the past two decades water temperatures in the Snoqualmie and Skykomish River basins has frequently exceeded temperature criteria established to protect Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and bull trout. These rivers combine in Monroe, WA to form the Snohomish River, the second largest producer of Chinook salmon in Puget Sound. The effects of high water...
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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 performance in simulating baseflow...
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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 performance in simulating baseflow...
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Quantifying suspended-sediment load and transport characteristics in the Calawah and Upper Bogachiel Rivers, Washington

The issue: Salmonid fisheries are an important cultural and economic activity and efforts to support a thriving fisheries industry remain a major priority for the Quileute Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. Land use changes can have a profound influence on basin sediment production with direct effects on fisheries (Madej and Ozaki, 2009). Studies are needed to improve estimates of the...
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Quantifying suspended-sediment load and transport characteristics in the Calawah and Upper Bogachiel Rivers, Washington

The issue: Salmonid fisheries are an important cultural and economic activity and efforts to support a thriving fisheries industry remain a major priority for the Quileute Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. Land use changes can have a profound influence on basin sediment production with direct effects on fisheries (Madej and Ozaki, 2009). Studies are needed to improve estimates of the...
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Fine sediment infiltration in Chinook spawning gravels in the Sauk River Basin, Washington

The Issue: There is concern that inherently high finer-grained (small gravel, sand, and silt) sediment loads in the Sauk River system may adversely affect egg-to-fry survival of ESA-listed Chinook salmon in the Sauk River and lower Skagit River Basin. However, there are no quantitative data for the Sauk River basin to assess if fine sediment deposition and infiltration into spawning gravels are at...
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Fine sediment infiltration in Chinook spawning gravels in the Sauk River Basin, Washington

The Issue: There is concern that inherently high finer-grained (small gravel, sand, and silt) sediment loads in the Sauk River system may adversely affect egg-to-fry survival of ESA-listed Chinook salmon in the Sauk River and lower Skagit River Basin. However, there are no quantitative data for the Sauk River basin to assess if fine sediment deposition and infiltration into spawning gravels are at...
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Central Columbia Plateau - Yakima River Basin

The Central Columbia Plateau/Yakima River Basin (CCYK) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) study unit is located in Central Washington, USA. The study unit is dominated by intensive agricultural practices, with irrigated agriculture a common practice for crop production (see study area description). Due to the intensive agriculture and irrigation, this area exhibits a number of water quality...
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Central Columbia Plateau - Yakima River Basin

The Central Columbia Plateau/Yakima River Basin (CCYK) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) study unit is located in Central Washington, USA. The study unit is dominated by intensive agricultural practices, with irrigated agriculture a common practice for crop production (see study area description). Due to the intensive agriculture and irrigation, this area exhibits a number of water quality...
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Puget Sound Basin NAWQA

The Puget Sound Basin (PUGT) study unit of the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program encompasses a 13,700-square-mile area that drains to Puget Sound and adjacent marine waters. Included in this region are all or part of 13 counties in western Washington, as well as the headwaters of the Skagit River and part of the Nooksack River in British Columbia, Canada. The Puget Sound Basin...
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Puget Sound Basin NAWQA

The Puget Sound Basin (PUGT) study unit of the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program encompasses a 13,700-square-mile area that drains to Puget Sound and adjacent marine waters. Included in this region are all or part of 13 counties in western Washington, as well as the headwaters of the Skagit River and part of the Nooksack River in British Columbia, Canada. The Puget Sound Basin...
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