Event Title

The Pierce County Ambient Watershed Health Assessment Program and “Raise the Grade” Program

Presentation Abstract

Since 2008, Pierce County Surface Water Management (SWM) has issued an annual Surface Water Health Report Card for selected waterbodies within the four major watersheds in Pierce County. The report card grades each stream on a scale of "A" to "F" based on a combination of Water Quality Index (WQI) and Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (BIBI) scores. The WQI and BIBI data are made available on the Pierce County public GIS data portal. Also in 2008, SWM began to rate the degree of compliance of public and private storm water management facilities on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 and 2 representing “significant non-compliance” and a 5 representing “exceeds requirements”. In the 2012 watershed health report card, SWM included an additional 14 streams and 2 lakes to the 30 streams and 6 lakes in previous report cards, for a total of 52 waterbodies. With the addition of those streams and lakes, combined County-wide stream health was a C+ for 2012. For many streams in the County we have multiple years of BIBI and WQI data and can begin looking for trends in stream health. Forty-one of the streams have both WQI and BIBI data for two or more years. The majority of these streams are improving in water quality, biological health, or both. Of these streams, 26 (63%) show an improving WQI trend, 29 (71%) show an improving BIBI trend, and 18 (44%) show an improving trend for both WQI and BIBI. Only four of these streams (10%) show a decreasing trend for both WQI and BIBI. Concurrently, significant noncompliance has been reduced from approximately 27% in 2008 to 8% in 2012. Pierce County SWM is using this analysis to guide our watershed management actions. Through the “Raise the Grade” program we have begun to focus extra time and resources on understanding and improving the water quality and benthic invertebrate communities in the four declining streams. The 2014 “Raise the Grade” program will build on successes from the 2012 pilot program, which resulted in increased report card grades in several streams. The program was awarded the National Association of Clean Water Agencies’ 2013 National Environmental Achievement Award. In 2014, the “Raise the Grade” program will include the four declining streams, a marine embayment, and two streams that were included in the pilot. SWM will conduct additional water quality and biological monitoring; develop action plans based on identified limiting water quality and biological parameters; seek a cross-jurisdictional review of workplans; provide focused source control inspections of potential pollutant generating sources; provide focused illicit discharge investigations; provide technical assistance workshops to homeowner associations; prioritize stormwater retrofit projects; develop a public messaging and outreach plan; and coordinate efforts with the local watershed councils and citizen groups.

Session Title

Session S-05C: Using Stream Bugs to Manage and Restore Watersheds

Conference Track

Freshwater

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2014 : Seattle, Wash.)

Document Type

Event

Start Date

1-5-2014 10:30 AM

End Date

1-5-2014 12:00 PM

Location

Room 606

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 1st, 10:30 AM May 1st, 12:00 PM

The Pierce County Ambient Watershed Health Assessment Program and “Raise the Grade” Program

Room 606

Since 2008, Pierce County Surface Water Management (SWM) has issued an annual Surface Water Health Report Card for selected waterbodies within the four major watersheds in Pierce County. The report card grades each stream on a scale of "A" to "F" based on a combination of Water Quality Index (WQI) and Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (BIBI) scores. The WQI and BIBI data are made available on the Pierce County public GIS data portal. Also in 2008, SWM began to rate the degree of compliance of public and private storm water management facilities on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 and 2 representing “significant non-compliance” and a 5 representing “exceeds requirements”. In the 2012 watershed health report card, SWM included an additional 14 streams and 2 lakes to the 30 streams and 6 lakes in previous report cards, for a total of 52 waterbodies. With the addition of those streams and lakes, combined County-wide stream health was a C+ for 2012. For many streams in the County we have multiple years of BIBI and WQI data and can begin looking for trends in stream health. Forty-one of the streams have both WQI and BIBI data for two or more years. The majority of these streams are improving in water quality, biological health, or both. Of these streams, 26 (63%) show an improving WQI trend, 29 (71%) show an improving BIBI trend, and 18 (44%) show an improving trend for both WQI and BIBI. Only four of these streams (10%) show a decreasing trend for both WQI and BIBI. Concurrently, significant noncompliance has been reduced from approximately 27% in 2008 to 8% in 2012. Pierce County SWM is using this analysis to guide our watershed management actions. Through the “Raise the Grade” program we have begun to focus extra time and resources on understanding and improving the water quality and benthic invertebrate communities in the four declining streams. The 2014 “Raise the Grade” program will build on successes from the 2012 pilot program, which resulted in increased report card grades in several streams. The program was awarded the National Association of Clean Water Agencies’ 2013 National Environmental Achievement Award. In 2014, the “Raise the Grade” program will include the four declining streams, a marine embayment, and two streams that were included in the pilot. SWM will conduct additional water quality and biological monitoring; develop action plans based on identified limiting water quality and biological parameters; seek a cross-jurisdictional review of workplans; provide focused source control inspections of potential pollutant generating sources; provide focused illicit discharge investigations; provide technical assistance workshops to homeowner associations; prioritize stormwater retrofit projects; develop a public messaging and outreach plan; and coordinate efforts with the local watershed councils and citizen groups.