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Watershed health monitoring

Our Watershed Health Monitoring program samples randomly-selected streams and rivers across the state to obtain a consistent, objective picture of biological, chemical, and habitat conditions and to track trends. The program is designed to answer questions about the overall condition of watersheds.

Since 2009, we've been collecting data on river and stream health among eight regions, statewide. These are the Puget Sound, Coastal, Lower Columbia, Mid-Columbia, Upper Columbia, Snake, Northeastern Washington, and Unlisted "Status & Trends Regions." We offer field training on our methods and help to manage data statewide for organizations that use these methods.

The success of much of our environmental work hinges upon the health of the watersheds that support the natural environment, communities, and the economy. We monitor watershed health by studying various indicators, including water quality, and biological, riparian, and landscape indicators. We follow strict measurement, quality control and data management, review, and validation procedures to gain an accurate picture of watershed health.

Monitoring plans and schedules

Scientist in vest with clipboard takes notes beside a stream.
We sample eight regions across the state, on a rotating basis. During 2018, we will collect samples at 50 streams and rivers in the Northeast Washington region between July 1 and Oct. 15. We first sampled this region in 2013, and we will return to half of those sites in 2018.

Stream surveys in the Northeast Washington region during 2018 is a two-page focus sheet describing this past season's sampling project.
  • Sampling schedules explains the monitoring-sites rotation, sample design, and contains the latest Candidate Site List.
  • Previous monitoring explains where we sample during the monitoring season and links to information on earlier years.

Methods and reports

We also offer services to the public and to other researchers for objectively assessing watershed health. These include standard protocols for monitoring rivers and streams and training on these protocols, the Washington Master Sample site set, and the WHMWeb database for managing stream-habitat data.