April 2017 Newsletter
Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8

Partners receive Green Globe award for work protecting Wayne Golf Course property

On Monday, April 17, King County Executive Dow Constantine awarded a Green Globe Leader in Land Preservation Award to OneBothell, Forterra, and the City of Bothell for their joint efforts with the County to protect 89 acres along the Sammamish River. The "back nine" of the Wayne Golf Course had been under threat of development until the groups arranged interim financing to buy the acreage. The property contains nearly a mile of shoreline along the river — a migratory corridor critical to restoring Chinook salmon to the North Lake Washington basin. Learn more about their work and the other Green Globe award winners.

Restoring West Point Treatment Plant operations after February's accident

On February 9, King County's West Point Treatment Plant, running near peak capacity due to heavy rain, experienced a catastrophic equipment failure and subsequent flood that crippled the plant's ability to fully treat wastewater. The event resulted in a release into Puget Sound of 235 million gallons of untreated effluent (85-90% of which is stormwater). No emergency bypasses have occurred since February 16, and beaches temporarily closed reopened February 21.

Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) staff have been working around the clock to fully restore plant function, determine what happened and review emergency policies and procedures to bolster the plant's resilience to future events. Staff expect the plant to be back at full treatment capability by April 30 with the restoration of secondary treatment, which requires healthy microorganisms in the digesters to consume organic solids. The King County Council is launching its own independent review of the event.

In response to the accident, King County increased its marine water quality monitoring in Puget Sound. To date, water quality testing results for bacteria, solids, nutrients, biochemical oxygen demand and trace metals remain within normal range. Data will be posted to the web bi-monthly online.

Learn more on WTD's blog, their plant restoration page, or by calling 206 477 5371. Meanwhile, help protect the Sound and its inhabitants by keeping trash out of our sewer system, using natural yard care, cleaning up after pets, and generally keeping pollutants out of our waterways.

South Lake Washington project monitoring shows promising results

Post-project monitoring at a Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) restoration site next to Boeing's Renton Plant at the mouth of the Cedar River on Lake Washington indicates that Chinook salmon are taking advantage of the shallow water habitat restored there in 2015. Snorkel surveys over the last two years show an increase in juvenile use of the habitat created when shoreline structures associated with the old Shuffleton Steam Plant were removed, sand, gravel and cobbles placed, and stormwater outfalls redirected. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studies of fish use around the Engineered Log Jams (ELJs) placed at the site suggest they are also working as hoped to enhance habitat. The DNR received salmon recovery funds for project planning and design through WRIA 8, and completed it in partnership with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and project neighbor The Boeing Company. Get more details and read the full monitoring report.

Celebrate kokanee!

Join the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group and local school and tribal youth at Issaquah's Confluence Park on May 11 from 11:30 — 2. Learn about work to recover the little red fish in our watershed and plant native plants to improve habitat.

Western governors urge Congress to support salmon recovery funding

In response to threatened cuts to salmon recovery programs, governors of five Western states sent a joint letter to the relevant Congressional subcommittees on April 13 urging them to support full funding (at $65M) for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) in fiscal year (FY) 2018 and for the remainder of FY 2017. The signers are Alaska Governor Bill Walker, California Governor Jerry Brown, Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee. Read the full letter.

WaterWorks grants awarded to WRIA 8 partners and others; next grant round begins

In February, the King County Executive and Council approved WaterWorks grant funding for a dozen projects to improve water quality throughout the region. Among the recipients:

WaterWorks' next round of funding opens April 20, with letters of intent due June 7. After review, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal. A total of $1,860,000 is available this biennial grant cycle (2017-2018); the next cycle is slated for 2019.

The WaterWorks Grant Program provides funding for projects that protect and improve water quality within King County Wastewater Treatment Division's service area, and that benefit its ratepayers. For more information, contact Water.Grants@kingcounty.gov or visit the WaterWorks website.

$400,000 grant awarded for improvements to fish ladder viewing area at Chittenden Locks

Improvements are coming to the Chittenden (Ballard) Locks fish ladder viewing area (just in time for the Locks' centennial) via a $400,000 grant from the Birkenfeld Memorial Trust Fund at Seattle Foundation. The grant was awarded to Discover Your Northwest and The Corps Foundation on April 4, and will be used to renovate and update exhibits and the viewing area. Discover Your Northwest is accepting donations from the public to help with these improvements. Learn more.

Thanks to our rainy winter, water supplies look good

Chester Morse Lake in a good water year

As anyone knows who has endured this cool and rainy winter, there was (and still is) a lot of snow in the mountains, thrilling Northwest skiers and fish advocates. Meteorologist Cliff Mass noted in mid-March that many spots in the region had received their precipitation for a typical water year (which begins October 1) in the first five and a half months.

Per Seattle Public Utilities, reservoir storage and snowpack are above average. And NOAA's Climate Prediction Center indicates that the Northwest will be wetter than usual in the short term but likely see normal seasonal precipitation and temperature over the longer term.

As the weather warms, check the above sites for updates, as well as USGS streamflow data and Washington's water supply information. No matter the season or the year, using water wisely is a good way to help fish!

Learn more about Green Shorelines

Sign up for a two day workshop on the Green Shores for Homes program May 31- June 1 at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture. The training is intended for planners, contractors, landscape architects and others interested in learning more about this voluntary program that awards homeowners credits for creating "softer" shorelines.

And speaking of salmon-friendly shorelines, read and share this excellent new stewardship guide for property owners living on Puget Sound, published by the Friends of the San Juans.

Celebrate Earth Day this and every month:

Earth Day, April 22: Edible City Science Fair at Seattle's MOHAI

Saturday, April 29: Restore habitat with Mountains to Sound on Mercer Island: Habitat Restoration at Mercerdale Hillside

Saturday, May 6: Take the kids to the Wildlife in the City Festival at the Pacific Science Center, part of a week of activities sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation.

For more ways to get involved, see King County's 1 Million Trees site and Mountains to Sound Greenway opportunities.

Salmon in the news:

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and treaty tribal co-managers have set the Washington salmon fisheries for 2017; they are calling it a "mixed bag" for Puget Sound anglers. Salmon recovery managers are looking to new strategies as threatened Chinook populations struggle.

Salmon Recovery Funding Board members note the effect of the President's proposed budget on salmon recovery. And Crosscut says the state is part of the problem in funding Puget Sound programs.

Educational resources:

Watch and share this charming six minute video about stormwater and the power of dirt to filter it! The Washington Environmental Council premiered "Polluted Puddles" at the Green Infrastructure Summit in February.

Telling another story is this short animated video that illustrates the hyporheic zone that underlies a stream or riverbed and the role it plays in a healthy ecosystem. It was produced with a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and additional funding from NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) and Seattle Public Utilities.

Here's a cool comic-type graphic that tells the story of "how salmon feed the forest." While the last panel is about the Klamath, the information is appropriate to any West Coast watershed.

Spring planting season is the perfect time to visit two great websites for information on salmon-friendly gardening practices. Grow Smart Grow Safe gives tips on managing pests and weeds without poisons. Learn about chemical-free yard care (and find workshops).

Chinook salmon (also known as king salmon) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In WRIA 8, citizens, scientists, businesses, environmental and community organizations, and local, state and federal governments are cooperating on protection and restoration projects and have developed a science-based plan to conserve salmon today and for future generations. Funding for the salmon conservation plan is provided by 28 local governments in the watershed. For more information visit our website at www.govlink.org/watersheds/8/.

If you would like to submit an item for inclusion in the next WRIA 8 e-newsletter, please email linda.grob@kingcounty.gov.