What's New
Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8

Drought conditions pose grave threats to local salmon

Drought conditions pose grave threats to local salmon

As most fish folks know, our region's all-time driest May-July, along with unprecedented hot temperatures, have warmed local rivers and streams and lowered flows to a point that threatens the ability of salmon to reach their spawning habitat in WRIA 8 and across the region.

Help fish survive the drought! Report problems to WDFWPuget Sound cities move to next stage of water shortage response

On August 11, Everett, Seattle and Tacoma moved to the second stage of water shortage response plans — voluntary reduction. The three cities, working together to manage water supplies for people and fish, are asking customers to reduce their water use voluntarily by 10 percent, effective immediately. Download the voluntary saving tips or read the full story online.

Help fish survive the drought! Report problems to WDFW Help fish survive the drought! Report problems to WDFW

This summer our fish need all the help they can get! Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife asks that people report fish blockages, fish stranding, or fish in distress to WDFW or 1-877-933-9847. Or report online. See information about the drought's impacts on fish.

Weekly summaries of flow and temperature data available from King County

King County staff are producing weekly summaries of flow and temperature data in King County rivers and streams (compared with historical data for context) as this hot dry summer continues. View a PDF of the weekly summary for August 10 to 16. To receive these updates, contact Jim Simmonds and Curtis DeGasperi.

Drought relief money available across the state

With a $16 million appropriation from the Legislature, the Washington Department of Ecology is accepting grant applications for public projects to help support projects that ensure reliable public water supplies, augment water supplies for farmers, and rescue or preserve fish runs in streams. Three projects have already been awarded funds. See more on the Washington Drought 2015 webpage.

Corps adjusts operations of Locks to conserve water

Due to the drought, Corps of Engineers officials expect Lake Washington's level to drop below 20 feet, for the first time since October 1987, and are taking steps to conserve water. The Corps is increasing the number of recreational vessels in each locking and adding more recreational vessels with commercial vessels. As lake levels change, additional measures could be implemented. See the webpage for more information.

Drought conditions make headlines

A potentially catastrophic collapse of the sockeye salmon run is unfolding on the Columbia River system this year. Scientists once predicted that about 100,000 sockeye would return to spawning grounds in the rivers and streams in British Columbia's South Okanagan region. Due to hotter temperatures and lower water, only a fraction of those are now expected.

Seattle scientists predicted this summer would be hot and dry, with warming waters and low river levels. Record-breaking heat, a meager snowpack, and a severe drought are making it even worse than they thought. And the infamous "blob" of unusually warm water in the Pacific isn't helping.

In July, WDFW closed or restricted fishing in thirty Washington rivers to help fish struggling with warm water and drought conditions.

Seattle Times Opinion page: Rivers and waters started hot this spring and got hotter. Fishery agencies say 250,000 to 400,000 Columbia River Basin salmon are dead or will die. So why has the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration refused since 2008 to analyze how climate change is affecting Columbia River Basin salmon?

Other regional news of note

Other news in the watershed Hearing examiner rules against development in Sammamish
In July a hearing examiner rejected a proposed new housing development near Ebright Creek, one of the primary kokanee spawning streams in the Lake Sammamish watershed.

State money to fix salmon-blocking culverts is not enough
Washington State is under a federal court order to fix hundreds of culverts that block access for migrating salmon, but it's not clear how they can come up with the more than $2 billion needed.

Water quality rules might be up to feds after Inslee drops rewrite
Governor Jay Inslee decided not to pursue a major rewrite of the state's clean water rules on July 31.

Conservation groups petition USACE on shoreline armoring
In late June, Friends of the San Juans, the Washington Environmental Council and Sound Action asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Seattle District to use its authority to regulate bulkheads, seawalls and other projects in tidal areas to improve fish habitat.

New website encourages support for aging Locks
With the Chittenden ("Ballard") Locks' centennial looming in 2017, the Corps of Engineers Foundation and Discover Your Northwest have joined forces to engage the public in supporting the major renovations needed to return the Locks to "a world class facility befitting the City of Seattle." Check out their new "tourist-friendly" website.

Learn about stormwater and salmon
At the July SRC, meeting, aquatic toxicologist Jen McIntyre presented on "Where Municipal Stormwater Hits the Road and the Salmon"

New Shoreline Master Program Handbook includes soft shorelines references
The Department of Ecology's new Shoreline Master Program (SMP) Handbook is now available online. Chapter 15 addresses shoreline stabilization and has links to two helpful documents on soft shoreline stabilization techniques, primarily in marine settings: Soft Shoreline Stabilization (SMP planning and implementation guidance) and Marine Shoreline Design Guidelines

Study shows watering and mulching may not improve tree survival in restoration projects
Recent work by King County evaluated the survival of trees planted in riparian restoration projects. County researchers found that 89-100% of cottonwood and alder trees survived their first summer, regardless of whether they were watered or mulched. Fact sheets and summaries for this and other projects can be found on the Puget Sound Partnership's Effectiveness Monitoring webpage.

Grant opportunities

Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) now accepting water quality grant applications
Check the website for complete and current information, but note that actions available for funding include both lake restoration planning and implementation and riparian/wetland restoration planning and implementation. Both of these support WRIA 8 priorities. The Combined Water Quality Grants and Loans include the Centennial Clean Water grant program, the Clean Water Act Section 319 grant program, the Revolving Fund loan program, and the Stormwater Financial Assistance grant program. Applications will be accepted until October 16, 2015. Learn more online.

Wastewater Treatment Division offers new WaterWorks grant program
To bolster local efforts to protect water quality, control pollution and build healthy communities, King County's Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) is offering $850,000 for community-driven environmental projects that benefit the WTD service area. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 16. For more information, contact Kayla Schick 206-477-4486, or visit the website.