Checking on the health of our watersheds
The Puget Sound watershed was originally covered in forests and wetlands that would naturally filter and direct the flow of water. As the >population in the area increased, construction and man-made barriers have changed the flow of this rainwater. Now the rainwater is instead diverted to storm drains.
Stormwater runoff, excess water flowing during storm events, is a major concern for Puget Sound. As the rain falls and water flows through our communities, various toxins can be picked up along the way. These pollutants end up flowing directly into Puget Sound without any treatment. If water quality is poor in our watersheds, aquatic life and surrounding ecosystems both feel the effects.
As part of our Salmon Heroes and other programs, ESC has partnered with local schools to test our local waters. Our recent NOAA B-WET grant allo
wed us to expand the program, reaching more students and in turn, more sample days. Our main test locations included Miller and Walker Creeks in Normandy Park and the Cedar River in Renton. All three of these are salmon-bearing streams. While on site, students measured a number of factors to help determine if the water is healthy for the salmon. This leads to a discussion on how to prevent and decrease the pollutants from entering Puget Sound.
How do the students measure water quality? They test for six test factors using LaMotte low cost water monitoring test kits.
Dissolved oxygen is the oxygen that is present and dissolved in water.
Nitrate is a chemical nutrient needed by plant and animal life for growth.
pH is a measurement of the acidic or basic quality of water or other substances.
Phosphate is a chemical nutrient needed for plant and animal growth.
Temperature is a measurement of hot or cold.
Turbidity is the measurement of the clarity of water.
Throughout our 2016-17 field season, we measured these factors at all three of our field sites. In general, our nitrate levels were below the range detectable in our test kits. We also did not see any dramatic change in our pH levels throughout the season. Our four other test results are presented in the graphs below. Click here for more information on water quality data from our 2015-2016 field season.