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Land Use Effects on Water Quality

The WAWSC monitors and conducts research on how different types and intensities of land use, like urbanization, forestry and agriculture, affect water quality, as well as the effectiveness of measures designed to protect water quality in streams and lakes within basins with varying levels of human activity. Changes in the type and extent of land cover can result in some similar and unique changes in water chemistry. The WAWSC staff of hydrologist, chemists, biologist, remote sensing scientist and modelers utilizes state of the art real time and remote land cover methods and water chemistry and biological approaches to identify the role land use plays in influencing water quality. Water quality variables examined include such parameters as temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen as well as nutrients, pesticides, metals, pharmaceuticals, and organic compounds like PBDEs and PAHs. Staff scientists evaluate the relationships between these compounds, as well as recently developed compounds, with sophisticated mathematical models to inform resource managers and planners with the information they need to make effective decisions. 

Filter Total Items: 30

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 riverbasin.How USGS will help: Provide continuous nitrate concentration data at three locations. Provide validationwater samples analyzing for nitrate concentration. Compute nitrate load estimatesusing 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 riverbasin.How USGS will help: Provide continuous nitrate concentration data at three locations. Provide validationwater samples analyzing for nitrate concentration. Compute nitrate load estimatesusing stream discharge data coupled with newly collected nitrate concentration data.
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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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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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Stillaguamish Emerging Contaminants

Emerging contaminants are a group of chemical compounds that generally include pharmaceuticals, personal-care products, surfactants, industrial and household chemicals, and food additives. Their presence in the environment is typically associated with discharges from wastewater treatment-plants (WWTP), on-site septic systems, and some animal production operations. They are of particular interest...
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Stillaguamish Emerging Contaminants

Emerging contaminants are a group of chemical compounds that generally include pharmaceuticals, personal-care products, surfactants, industrial and household chemicals, and food additives. Their presence in the environment is typically associated with discharges from wastewater treatment-plants (WWTP), on-site septic systems, and some animal production operations. They are of particular interest...
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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...
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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...
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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 excess...
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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 excess...
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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 water quality and...
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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 water quality and...
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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 Washington State...
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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 Washington State...
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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...
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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...
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