Pierce County website offers info on health of watersheds
January 4, 2012 · 3:26 PM
Online information about the health of watersheds in Pierce County is now available to the public, educators, students, and others interested in water quality.
A watershed is the area of land within which all rainfall flows to the same place. Rainwater is "shed" from the land and ends up in local creeks, steams and aquifers, eventually leading to Puget Sound. All of Pierce County is in the Puget Sound Watershed, which is divided into smaller watersheds, like the Nisqually Watershed or the Puyallup Watershed.
Pierce County Public Works and Utilities monitors local streams for contaminants that could affect the health of humans and wildlife. The department also measures pollutants like fecal coliform bacteria, which come from pet waste, leaky septic systems, and livestock. Pierce County is legally required to monitor water quality under both federal and state laws.
"Online monitoring information is a key part of making watershed health information more available and accessible to the public. People have the right to know the health of their streams and lakes and what the county is doing to protect it," said water quality manager Dan Wrye.
Pollution monitoring data is available from 2000 to the present and will be updated as new data is collected.
The new watershed health website offers:
• An interactive map of all monitored streams in Pierce County;
• Links to monitoring data for all monitored streams in Excel or PDF formats;
• Definitions of monitoring terminology; and
• Annual water quality report card and information about how streams get their grades.
Visit http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/watershedhealthdata/ to learn more.
Knowing the status of the county's water quality, groundwater levels, stream flows, and biology helps the county make good decisions to improve the health of watersheds. It can also provide teaching tools for students and educators.
Since 2008, Pierce County has published an annual Surface Water Health Report Card for 30 streams in the County. The report card summarizes the water quality of each stream and provides a grade based on the data collected from that stream. Past report cards can be found at www.piercecountywa.org/monitoring.