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Ecology Seeks Input on Tucannon River
and Pataha Creek Water Quality Report

by Jani Gilbert
Department of Ecology, April 15, 2010

SPOKANE - The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is welcoming public comment on a report that describes ways to improve water quality in the Tucannon River and Pataha Creek, which drain into the Snake River in southeastern Washington. The actions outlined in the report are intended to protect, restore, and preserve water quality.

The opportunity to comment on the water quality report begins Wednesday, April 21, 2010, and extends through Friday, May 21. The report details the problems caused by high temperatures in the creek and river. It also outlines actions that could help reduce the temperature by developing effective shade next to the water.

Stream temperature is vital to threatened and endangered salmon, which need cold, clean water to survive. The lack of streamside vegetation allows more sunlight to enter the water and increase algae growth. Streamside vegetation also filters runoff so fewer pollutants like nutrients and bacteria reach the water.

"Many people don't realize that increased water temperature is really a pollution problem," said Jon Jones, who leads the Ecology team that has been studying water quality in the streams. "We believe that we've worked out some good ways to reduce temperature in the Tucannon River and Pataha Creek. But we want to hear what people think about our proposed actions."

The Tucannon drains a watershed area of about 320 square miles in Garfield and Columbia counties, and flows into the Snake River near Lyons Ferry State Park. Pataha Creek flows into the Tucannon and drains an area of about 185 square miles.

The report sets targets for increasing shade, maintaining stream depth, and reducing stream bank erosion to help reduce water temperatures. These actions also will help increase dissolved oxygen in the water to further help fish. The report also recommends continuous temperature monitoring of the effluent from the Pomeroy wastewater treatment plant and the Tucannon Fish Hatchery during the hottest, driest months of the year -- July and August.

Related Sites:
water quality improvement report
Tucannon River Water Quality Website

Jani Gilbert
Ecology Seeks Input on Tucannon River and Pataha Creek Water Quality Report
Department of Ecology, April 15, 2010

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