Watershed health monitoring

Our Watershed Health Monitoring program samples randomly-selected streams and rivers across the state. This allows us to obtain a consistent and objective picture of biological, chemical, and habitat conditions. Sampling also allows us 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 water quality and biological, riparian, and landscape indicators. We follow strict measurement, quality-control, data-management, review, and validation procedures to gain an accurate picture of the health of our watersheds.

Monitoring plans and schedules

We sample eight regions across the state on a rotating basis. During 2020, we will collect samples at 50 streams and rivers in the Puget Sound Status & Trends Region between July 1 and Oct. 15. We previously sampled this region in 2009 and 2013.

Puget Sound Streams Survey 2020 is a two-page focus sheet describing this year's sampling project.

  • Sampling schedules explain the monitoring-sites rotation, sample design, and contain the latest Candidate Site List.
  • Previous monitoring explains where we sampled during past seasons.

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.

Watershed Health reports include: