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The Pacific northwest stream quality assessment

April 2, 2015

In 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program is assessing stream quality in the Pacific Northwest. The goals of the Pacific Northwest Stream Quality Assessment (Pacific Northwest study) are to assess the quality of streams in the region by characterizing multiple water-quality factors that are stressors to aquatic life and to evaluate the relation between these stressors and biological communities. The effects of urbanization and agriculture on stream quality for the Puget Lowlands and Willamette Valley are the focus of this regional study. Findings will provide the public and policymakers with information regarding which human and environmental factors are the most critical in affecting stream quality and, thus, provide insights about possible approaches to protect or improve the health of streams in the region.

The Pacific Northwest study will be the third regional study by the NAWQA program, and it will be of similar design and scope as the first two—the Midwest in 2013 and the Southeast in 2014 (Van Metre and others, 2012, 2014).