Stormwater mapping: A glimpse into the world of tracking where the rain goes

By Alison Sienkiewicz

Aeronautical engineers, consultants, graphic designers, and Geographic Information System (GIS) professionals formed an unlikely, but unstoppable, team at King County’s Water and Land Resources Division last year. The project team’s short-term goal was to map the stormwater drainage system within parts of unincorporated King County, an assignment that allowed them to test their field skills and environmental passion. To help accomplish this, a team was brought together as part of an ongoing effort to map stormwater drainage system that had not been inventoried, as required by King County’s Phase 1 Municipal Stormwater Permit. Team members were hired for their knowledge of stormwater management and GIS, as well as a love of the environment. Their diverse backgrounds helped them each bring different skills to this project.

“This was a great opportunity to get a foot in the door at King County,” said Anna Lucero, one of the first mappers hired onto the team.

A team of about a dozen people was hired to locate, map, and inspect stormwater structures along nearly 800 of the 1,400 miles of roadways in unincorporated King County. The team started their days dispersing across the county to map and inspect nearly 65,000 stormwater structures and mechanisms, including pipes, ditches, catch basins, manholes, and other drainage features. The team would verify that these structures were not full of debris, cracked, or otherwise deficient, allowing water to continue to move smoothly throughout the stormwater system and help reduce flooding. To give a sense of magnitude of the stormwater infrastructure within King County, King County Roads Division estimates there are more than 5,000,000 linear feet of ditches, more than 25,000 catch basins, and more than 2,000,000 linear feet of pipe.

“The data needed a lot of work,” said Joe Espinosa, the project lead. “(It) hadn’t been updated in more than 15 years.”

Blog Post 1_ image 1
Mapper Chris Meder enters data into a tablet during a ditch and culvert inspection.

A day in the life of the temporary mappers would start with the team strategizing their game plan for the day and making computer updates to the mapping work from the previous days. They would review the updated maps, determine what areas still needed to be mapped or reviewed, and would venture out with a teammate in a truck, traveling to their designated area to spend the day.  “Having a partner in the field built great comradery among the team,” said Chris Meder.

Within their designated area, the mapping team would inspect each catch basin, measuring its dimensions, and assess if there were any large cracks or deficiencies in the structure. Using mirrors on sticks, they inspected the pipes coming in and out of each catch basin.

“I put a mirror down into a pipe one day and saw a skunk tail pointing at me,” said Jeff Tarshis. “Needless to say I wrapped up that inspection pretty quickly.”

Culverts were also a common stormwater conveyance structure that the team inspected. A culvert is a pipe or concrete box structure that drains to an open channel, swale, or ditch under a roadway or embankment. It is important that these culverts are not clogged with debris and do not have any breaks in the pipe or structure so water can move smoothly and quickly through the structure, therefore reducing flooding.

“One of my best field memories was when I inspected a culvert and saw two kittens in there,” said Emily Davis. “The kittens did not appear hurt but were quite playful and keen on diverting our attention.”

Blog Post 1_image 2
Mapper Emily Davis encounters a kitten while inspecting a concrete pipe in unincorporated King County.

The team explored the widespread geographical areas of King County, the 13th largest county in the United States, which included summer field work on Vashon Island, winter trips to Enumclaw in the snow, and foggy fall trips to Duvall. Over the course of the short-term project the crew of 16 assessed nearly 27,000 stormwater structures and, of those, more than 5,000 structures were flagged for further investigation.

Blog Post 1_Image 3
An example of a catch basin that is plugged with sediment and needs cleaning.

One surprise on the job was how interesting stormwater is within our environment.

“I came into the job wanting to expand my GIS skills,” says Chris Meder. “I came out stoked about stormwater management.” This short-term project provided the team with a boots-on-the-ground understanding of how rainwater flows through our communities and how extensive the stormwater infrastructure is in King County. The field work provided the mappers with real-world experience in understanding how stormwater pollutes our local waterways — an invaluable lesson since stormwater is the predominant source of pollution threatening the health of Puget Sound.

Getting out of the office and having this field component was a draw for many on the team.

“I love field work,” said Emily Davis. “It was satisfying to go out and get a lot of work done, regardless of weather.” Physically, the project gave the team experience in dealing with challenges of weather because they were out in the field mapping each week, rain or shine.

“I learned to always wear rain pants when it is raining,” said Taylor Rulien, “because just wearing a rain jacket doesn’t always keep you dry in our rainy season.”

This job also helped the team field test their knowledge of water systems in the real world, which requires an engaging mind to appreciate and understand.

“My educational background in engineering and my inquisitive mind for water systems helped me in this job,” said Melissa Dahl.

Blog Post 1_image 4
Mapper Andrea Wong inspecting a catch basin alongside a road.

In addition to field and GIS skills, the project also provided numerous non-technical skills, including how to work together in a team setting, transferring outdoor data collection into online data tools, and building community relation skills.

“The public was so supportive of this project,” said Anna Lucero. “Everyone was very understanding and interested to learn that the rain does not go into the same pipes as their sewage. Everyone cared.”

This stormwater mapping project helps King County save time and money by minimizing emergency responses and road or property damage. Mapping and inventorying these structures provides data to make better decisions on stormwater infrastructure investments for a county of more than two million residents. And, with more knowledge about where the stormwater runoff goes and how it gets there, we can continue to clean up our lakes, rivers, and streams by looking upstream at potential sources of pollution.

Many of the team members were uncertain about applying for the project’s positions because of the short-term nature, but they were all glad they did it.

“I knew it was risky going from a full time consulting job to this, but it was exciting to jump into the unknown,” said Emily Davis. “This short term position pushed us to learn more and not be sedentary in a career.”

“This is the first job I have ever been sad to leave,” said Kasim Salahuddin.

“This job has helped shape my future,” said Melissa Dahl. “King County gave all of us a great opportunity and we are so appreciative.”

Keep an eye out for future internships, short term jobs or sign up for alerts at Careers at King County.

Blog Post 1_Image 5
The stormwater mapping team (*permanent data support staff). Back row, from left: Nick Hetrick*, Matthew Goad*, Kasim Salahuddin, Emily Davis, Melissa Dahl, Mark Preszler*. Middle row, from left: Jeff Tarshis, Kyle Korbines, Taylor Rulien, Edward McFarlin*, Lusha Zhou*. Front row, from left: Chris Meder, Ana Lucero, Andrea Wong, Jeannie Pride*, Joe Espinsoa*.

 

 

Echo Lake Stormwater Study

By Carly Greyell

Living in King County, rain is a natural part of life. But you might not realize that when rain collects on impervious surfaces, like roadways and roofs, it can pick up a variety of pollutants. Every day activities, like driving a car, walking the dog, and fertilizing your lawn, can contribute pollutants like heavy metals, oil, bacteria, solids, and nutrients. This polluted rain water is referred to as stormwater and King County and other local jurisdictions are working hard to reduce the amount of pollutants that stormwater adds to our local waterbodies, including lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound.

One way to treat stormwater is through bioretention where stormwater is filtered through a soil mixture that includes compost and sand. In 2012, the City of Shoreline installed a number of bioretention planter boxes (designed like concrete-lined rain gardens), along Aurora Avenue North, which is part of Highway 99. The bioretention planter boxes treat some of the stormwater that drains to Echo Lake. King County recently designed a study to see how effective the planter boxes remained three years after construction, and whether they could reduce stormwater pollutants that contribute to human health risks such as PCBs.

bioretention-3-graphic

The King County Environment Lab (KCEL) Field Sciences Unit braved the rain to collect samples during eight storms from December 2015 to February 2017. Samples of both the untreated stormwater entering the bioretention planter boxes and the treated stormwater after it had filtered through the soil mixture were collected for chemical analysis. Pollutant concentrations between the treated and untreated stormwater were then compared to determine how effective the planter boxes were at removing pollutants from the stormwater.

The results were mostly positive: the bioretention planter boxes significantly reduced concentrations of most pollutants, including chemicals associated with oils and exhaust, total copper, total zinc, solids, and even PCBs. Average reductions for these pollutants ranged from 81 percent to 99 percent at each site. Levels of dissolved heavy metals were not always reduced, but concentrations in both the treated and untreated stormwater were very low. These findings are consistent with results from studies that evaluated new bioretention, suggesting the planter boxes are continuing to perform as expected, three to five years after installation.

Unfortunately, nutrients in the stormwater were not consistently reduced, and in many cases the stormwater treated by the planter boxes actually had higher concentrations than the untreated stormwater. This is particularly problematic for phosphorus, which, when elevated, can lead to increased algal blooms in lakes. This problem has been recognized with bioretention across the region, and local researchers are currently evaluating alternative bioretention soil mixtures for stormwater treatment in areas at risk for algal blooms.

lake

Despite the good news in treatment, the maintenance requirements for these planter boxes were higher than expected. Water enters these installations from the busy roadway through cuts in the curb, which were easily blocked with dirt, leaves, and other debris. Without regular debris clearing, stormwater was blocked from entering the planter boxes, and bypassed treatment.

Thanks to the results of this and similar studies, stormwater engineers and managers are learning how to improve stormwater treatment techniques.

PCBs – Banned But Not Forgotten

pcbsPolychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are a group of chemicals developed in the 1930s that had a range of uses, including additives for construction materials, such as paints and caulks. However, PCBs were linked with negative health effects such as cancer and hormone disruption, and in 1979, U.S. production was banned. Unfortunately, most PCBs do not break down easily, and older buildings and industrial sites remain important sources of PCBs.

In several local waterbodies, including Lake Washington, fish consumption advisories warn that certain fish species contain PCBs at levels that are unsafe to eat. Researchers are learning that one of the main ways PCBs enter these water bodies is through stormwater. However, PCBs are not currently regulated under stormwater permits. Studies, like the one described here, are important so that we can learn how best to reduce PCBs in stormwater, thus preventing human health issues.

Effective Stormwater Management

The Washington State Department of Ecology helps local municipalities like King County and the City of Shoreline manage their stormwater permits. Since 2013, most Washington state stormwater permitees have pooled resources to fund regional stormwater monitoring and studies that evaluate how well permit requirements serve to improve stormwater treatment. Washington state permitees selected the study described here for funding through this program.

carly-greyell.pngCarly Greyell is an ecotoxicologist in the King County Science and Technical Support Section. She has been supporting many of the Lower Duwamish source control projects and involved in ongoing toxics monitoring and projects assessing the effectiveness of stormwater treatment.

 

 

 

Modeling Climate Change Impacts on Extreme Precipitation, Stormwater Design Requirements, and Wastewater Conveyance

By Jim Simmonds

King County’s 2015 Strategic Climate Action Plan calls for assessments of climate change effects on large rainstorms in King County and the ensuing impacts on stormwater and wastewater management. These assessments were prioritized in response to recent findings from the University of Washington that large rain events known as “atmospheric rivers” are projected to hold an average of 22 percent more moisture by the end of the century (Warner et al., 2015).

earth

Large rain events known as “atmospheric rivers” are projected to hold an average of 22 percent more moisture by the end of the century.

(Warner et al., 2015)

Most extreme precipitation events along the West Coast are associated with winter atmospheric river events. Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow bands of moisture-laden air that can deliver intense rain when they intersect land. Atmospheric rivers that affect western Washington often originate in the subtropical Pacific Ocean near Hawaii; these are sometimes referred to as “pineapple express” events. About one-half to two-thirds of Western Washington’s annual precipitation falls during atmospheric river events.

 

King County partnered in 2016 with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group to model hourly rainfall throughout the county under climate change conditions. This modeling was funded by King County’s Stormwater Services Section,Wastewater Treatment Division, and a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology. The innovative modeling approach relies on “nesting” a regional weather model within two global weather models to allow for more refined predictions. The nested modeling approach is critical for understanding climate change impacts on storms in the Pacific Northwest.

weather-graph
This image of total precipitable water contained in the atmosphere shows a long band of wet air crossing the Pacific Ocean towards the Pacific Northwest, known as an “atmospheric river” (from Warner et al 2015).

The regional model used was the Weather Research and Forecasting model applied by the University of Washington, which is the same model used to make short-term weather forecasts for the region. The climate scenario modeled is based on ongoing, unabated global carbon emissions through the end of the century.

Preliminary modeling results show about 20 to 40 percent more rain will fall during each year’s heaviest hour of rainfall by the end of this century. Increases are also projected for less-frequent storms and longer-duration storms. For the official Seattle weather station at SeaTac, this means that the one-hour annual peak rain event is projected to increase by 2100. Model results to date do not suggest that “atmospheric rivers” will occur more frequently under climate change conditions, only that they are projected to deliver more precipitation.

These modeling results have important implications for stormwater management. In accordance with requirements by the Washington State Department of Ecology, King County requires developers to use a manual to size and design stormwater flow control and water quality treatment. The design relies on the past 68 years of rainfall data for ensuring proper sizing. Because future storm sizes are projected to increase, this implies that stormwater systems designed today may be undersized for future conditions. A sensitivity analysis of stormwater facility design to future rainfall conditions will be completed in 2018, along with an analysis of options for updating the design requirements.

flooded-lot
Intense rainstorms can overwhelm the stormwater system and cause urban flooding.

King County also owns and operates the regional wastewater conveyance and treatment system for the greater Seattle area. Portions of the City of Seattle have combined wastewater and stormwater conveyance systems, which allow for substantially greater flows during rain events than dry periods. King County is investing heavily to reduce overflows from the combined system during large rain events, and is interested in incorporating future storm conditions in the planning process. To do this, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division will be modeling the wastewater conveyance and treatment system under both historical and projected future climate conditions to determine possible changes in flow timing and volume. The results from this modeling will be incorporated into future plans for maintaining and upgrading the facilities.

 

Read more about the King County SciFYI newsletter.

jim-simmondsJim Simmonds is the Water Quality Unit Supervisor of King County’s Science and Technical Support Section. He has over 25 years’ experience monitoring and modeling environmental conditions, managing environmental investigations, managing environmental data, and assessing potential impacts of stormwater, wastewater, and environmental contamination. He has been with King County for 17 years.

 

New Fish Resource Monitoring Program

By Jim Bower

fish-panoKing County is ground zero for managing both rapid urbanization and highly valued fish resources. The County and numerous other partners have spent millions of dollars on fish conservation and fish habitat projects, as well as floodplain restoration, land protection, stormwater controls, land use regulations, and other salmon recovery efforts. Do you ever wonder if all the steps we take to conserve the County’s environment and fish resources are making a difference? Are we on the right track?

King County’s Science and Technical Support Section has initiated a Fish Resources Monitoring Program to track and more importantly, drive improvement of the overall effectiveness of ongoing strategies to conserve our fish resources. The program will implement a suite of methodologies to determine if our strategies are producing an overall positive, cumulative effect on fish populations and fish habitat. Furthermore, the program will evaluate the return on County (and other partner) investments in fish resources; where and how the County can maximize the effectiveness of future investments in fish resources; and whether or not changes should be made to protection, mitigation and restoration efforts.

graph

A technical team from across King County’s Water and Land Resources Division (WLRD) began work in early 2017 to develop an initial, multi-prong approach to address the program goals and questions. The team started by considering fundamental analysis options, such as project-level, status and trend, and intensively monitored watershed assessments. Over time, the program may tackle these challenging goals and questions from different scales and scopes, along with changing priorities. The acquisition of additional status and trends data across major watersheds in King County will also be explored. However, in the near term, the initial approach by the team is likely to involve two separate methods:

A meta-analysis of approximately 18 project-level monitoring efforts overseen by the River and Floodplain Management Section and Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit within WLRD. This analysis is expected to utilize “log response ratios,” which measure the proportional changes of important ecological variables caused by a range of treatments (Hedges et al 1999). The results of individual monitoring efforts within the meta-analysis will be weighted based on the type of experimental control.

A variation of intensively monitored watersheds by replicating the 2014 study Assessing Land Use Effects and Regulatory Effectiveness on Streams in Rural Watersheds of King County, Washington (Lucchetti et al 2014). This approach will evaluate changes to important fish habitat variables after 10 plus years of implementation of “critical area” regulatory protections. This analysis will also initiate the assessment of fish population biomass, richness, and diversity among the study watersheds.

Both analyses are expected to help describe the performance of current resource management strategies and inform future adaptive management.

A concurrent program task is developing a spatially related fish population and habitat database. Over time, the database will incorporate historic and current fish resource information, including survey data, related reports, and supplemental narratives.  This will require coordination with other local and regional data collection efforts, such as those by Tribes, WRIAs, Puget Sound Partnership, and state and federal agencies. The data is anticipated to be associated with high-resolution hydrography and delivered to any desktop or online ArcGIS end-user in their own, customizable GIS environment.

A “Year 1” program status report will be completed in February 2018. Future bi-annual status reports will review ongoing data collection and assessments, describe data gaps, promote new opportunities for adaptive management, and ensure current and relevant resource management questions are still being asked. The periodic status report will also be the primary opportunity to propose future program monitoring and assessment methodologies based on current findings.

Read more about the King County SciFYI newsletter.

jim-bower.pngJim Bower is an Environmental Scientist III/Fish Ecologist in the King County Science and Technical Support Section. He is King County’s technical representative for the Lake Sammamish kokanee and WRIA 8 Chinook restoration planning areas. His work with native kokanee involves collaboration with numerous public agencies, private landowners, and conservation organizations; his work includes various long-term monitoring and coordination of annual kokanee recovery actions. Jim also provides technical support to WRIA 8 project planning, study design, monitoring implementation, and grant review.

New ESJ iMap tool brings together community and capital projects for employees

By Lilia Cabello Drain, Communications Specialist, Department of Executive Services

Back in 2013, the Water and Land Resources Division wanted to find a more efficient way of determining the characteristics and statistics of the populations they serve or would impact when doing capital projects. The information is critical to supporting King County’s equity and social justice goals and better project or program outcomes.

Developed over the last three years through a partnership with King County GIS Center, the Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) iMap application was developed to allow employees to access and view census and demographic data with a geographic context for their projects, programs and reporting.

esj-imap-2017
A screen shot of the ESJ iMap.

“If employees want to know about capital projects and programs that the Department of Natural Resources and Parks is providing to the public, they can see it here,” said Larry Jones, Senior Water Quality Planner in the Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP).

Using a database called PRISM that draws information uploaded by program managers on Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), the map also shows many relevant spatial data layers about stormwater, flooding, land use, administrative areas and King County demographics data, including age, sex, income, race and language.

While an exciting accomplishment, Larry explains that initially people were unsure how this tool could benefit their work. Therefore, it was necessary to secure employee input and involvement, along with management buy-in, and provide demonstrations of the tool’s ESJ relevance. So in 2016, Harkeerat Kang, GIS Application Developer, and Larry began showcasing the tool.

“We basically just went out on the road and did the ‘circuit’ to sell it,” he said. “We shared it with other teams and groups within DNRP.”

Larry Jones and Harkeerat Kang worked together on the ESJ iMap tool.

Since then, people have recognized the value of the tool and are investing in it by providing project data and identifying relevant information, thus making the ESJ iMap tool more relevant and an evolving mechanism, meaning it could eventually expand to include more data and projects.

“We met with Public Health — Seattle & King County to consider adding their projects into the iMap,” said Larry. “There’s also a big move to reach out to school districts and include their data, but currently the application isn’t designed for that.”

“We still have a lot of homework to do, more people to accommodate and other relationships to pursue, but right now we want to get program managers and employees who do any manner of community outreach using the system,” he adds.

Getting his start in Metro in 1982 before eventually finding his way into the Water and Land Resources Division, Larry works on water quality projects, and coordinates ESJ activities for the Water and Land Division within DNRP. He enjoys his work and sharing the impact of this project with the people around him, looking forward to how King County can continue expanding on its promise to prioritize equity and social justice.

“We don’t know all the opportunities this tool will allow us to pursue, but we can guess some by putting on our residents’ hats,” he said. Currently project managers are using it to assess if certain communities are being inequitably impacted or what languages should information be translated in to better serve all residents.

Harkeerat agrees. Beginning with King County in 1999 as a DNRP intern, she has been in her current role since 2006 and is passionate about working on issues of equity and social justice.

“I love what I do, King County has been very good to me,” she said. “So I get the importance of working on equity because King County has definitely been equitable to me.”

The ESJ iMap tool makes a clear connection between the community and King County employees who use it, providing both a direct link between project management decisions and how they will impact real people, residents and the environment.

It is still in development, with a final rollout intended for later this year or early 2018. As employees use the tool, it will continue to be revised with new features or data to make it more robust, responsive and relative to King County projects and programs. Training will begin in late 2017 with project managers and outreach employees in DNRP initially. Eventually other employees and everyday King County residents will be able to examine or assess who a project will impact, the result of long range project plans, the proximity and type of nearby projects and how best to work with specific communities to successfully complete a project.

King County employees can access the ESJ iMap tool here. For more information about the ESJ iMap project, contact Larry Jones at Larry.Jones@kingcounty.gov or Harkeerat Kang at Harkeerat.Kang@kingcounty.gov.

 

Logjams make the Cedar River unsafe for recreation, but they’re great for fish

024
A cottonwood spans the Cedar River, one of many downed trees that have led to the river’s closure.

The King County Sheriff’s Office announced earlier this month that a portion of the Cedar River is closed to all in-river recreational use for the second season in a row due to numerous logjams, downed trees, hanging limbs and other blockages.

The river is closed from river mile 4.5 to river mile 13.5, a nine-mile stretch from Renton to Maple Valley. Twelve blockages – nine of them serious – make the river too dangerous for recreation, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The blockages are similar in number and severity to last year – and all are due to naturally occurring processes.

John Koon, a senior engineer in the County’s Rivers Section, recently walked the banks of the Cedar and could see why law enforcement made the decision. He saw two punctured rafts wrapped around a logjam, a sobering sight. John has been monitoring rivers in King County for more than two decades. “I don’t remember the Cedar ever having so many hazards.”

But there’s an important twist in this ongoing discussion over the state of the Cedar River. The strainers, spanners and logjams may be bad for those who want to float the Cedar, but they’re excellent for fish, including two runs – fall chinook and steelhead – that are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and protected under tribal treaty rights.

Adding to the situation is the unique nature of the Cedar, a river that brings this dilemma into focus like no other in the region. The Cedar is just the right size to be closed by a spanner and just slow enough for some of those spanners to remain in place. It’s near an urban center – and thus to people who want recreate in it, including boaters, anglers and those who like to float the river. And all that wood provides invaluable habitat to ESA-listed fish, fish that the state and tribes co-manage with an eye towards ensuring their survival and resilience.

“We’re working right now with the tribes, the state and other jurisdictions to try to figure out the best path forward with the Cedar. But there are no good models,” said Josh Baldi, director of the Water and Land Resources Division.

“How do you make a river safe for recreationalists while improving habitat for fish? We know how to do this when designing restoration projects, but it’s far trickier with natural wood recruitment. This is largely unchartered terrain.”

So why does wood in a river matter so much? Large pieces of wood trap other pieces of wood, creating complex habitat that supports salmon at several stages in their life cycle, explains Sarah McCarthy, a senior ecologist in the County’s Water and Land Resources Division.

Wood, for instance, retains gravel, which is needed for spawning. It encourages riverbed scour, which in turn creates pools where salmon can rest, find deep, cool refuge and hide from predators. Logjams slow down the flow and sometimes split a channel, creating new channels and backwaters critical to healthy salmon runs. Wood is also the basis for an aquatic food web – invertebrates live in the downed trees and logs and occasionally fall into the river, where they’re snatched up by hungry fish.

“The research is clear that wood in rivers and streams improves habitat quality,” Sarah said.

Western Washington’s rivers used to be filled with wood. But over the course of the past century or so, much of that wood was removed or prevented from falling into rivers – the result of logging and agricultural practices, navigational improvements and flood control efforts.

Those actions came with a cost. The removal of wood led to the destruction of salmon habitat and added to the steady decline of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Today, 17 distinct salmon populations are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA in Washington. And while wood removal was seen as a way to provide flood protection, in many instances it made the situation worse – causing faster, more unconstrained flows, erosion and channelization.

Government agencies, including King County, are now seeking a new path, trying to balance all of these competing forces in support of rivers that are healthy and resilient and that are good for both people and fish. As a result, the County routinely incorporates wood into both restoration and flood control projects, using the best science and engineering practices to do so and keeping stakeholders – including river safety advocates and recreationalists – informed throughout the process.

Earlier this month, project managers in the Water and Land Resources Division held two public meetings to discuss several current projects that will use placed wood either to improve habitat or provide flood protection.

As for the Cedar, where naturally occurring wood – not wood used in restoration or flood control projects – is making in-water recreation dangerous, Kate Akyuz, a senior environmental scientist in the Rivers Section, is working with the Sheriff’s Office, state officials, tribal biologists and others to determine a course that makes sense. It’s possible, for instance, that some of the wood could be shifted or removed, she said, noting that doing so would require the County to mitigate for that removal by creating salmon habitat elsewhere.

Josh attended one of the recent public meetings about large wood where he discussed his own love of river rafting as well as the environmental challenges at a place like the Cedar River.

“We have a lot of needs we’re trying to balance in a river that is important to many different constituents,” he said after the meeting. “Our goal is to approach this issue using both solid science and thoughtful public policy and to do what’s right for both people and fish.”

RM 9_7 Cummins IMG_3718_resize.JPG
This tree spans the Cedar at river mile 9.7.

King County swimming beach monitoring starts up – data and alerts available weekly

Summer is on the way (fingers crossed warm weather comes to stay sooner rather than later) and King County has begun its seasonal monitoring of freshwater swimming beaches to ensure they are safe for recreation.

Water samples are taken weekly at the freshwater swimming beaches listed below and analyzed for fecal coliform bacteria, toxins, water temperature, and harmful algal toxins.

Beach goers, swimmers, and science enthusiasts can sign up to receive weekly alerts and status updates about the freshwater beaches being monitored. Visit the King County Swimming Beach Monitoring Program website to subscribe. Monitoring results and closure information are posted weekly to the web page. There you can also find information about “swimmer’s itch,” toxic algae blooms and hazards to pets, plus combined sewer overflow locations and status and a link to marine beach monitoring performed by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The Water and Land Resources (WLR) Division and Public Health – Seattle & King County work together on the program, with WLR managing the monitoring and analysis and Public Health being responsible for closing beaches when there is a risk to public health.

2017 swimming beaches monitored by King County

  • Andrews Bay – Seward Park
  • Beaver Lake Beach
  • Echo Lake
  • Enatai Beach
  • Gene Coulon
  • Green Lake Duck Island Launch
  • Green Lake – East
  • Green Lake – West
  • Groveland Park Beach
  • Hidden Lake
  • Houghton Beach
  • Idylwood Beach
  • Idylwood Creek
  • John’s Creek
  • Juanita Beach
  • Juanita Creek
  • Kennydale Beach
  • Lake Sammamish Beach
  • Lake Wilderness Beach
  • Luther Burbank Beach
  • Madison Park Beach
  • Madrona Beach
  • Magnuson Beach
  • Magnuson Beach Off Leash Area
  • Marina Park Beach
  • Matthews Beach
  • Mount Baker Beach
  • NE 130th Pl
  • Newcastle Beach
  • Pine Lake
  • Pritchard Island Beach
  • Rattlesnake Lake (monitored by Seattle Public Utilities)
  • Sammamish Landing Beach
  • Thornton Creek
  • Waverly Park Beach

 

Earth Week 2017: Celebrating science!

CELEBRATINGSCIENCE Instagram

Join us in celebrating science in the week leading up to Earth Day, April 22. Looking for a way to make a difference or pitch in? Check out our tips, volunteer events and green guidelines at our Earth Week Hub!

King County and its partners have committed to plant one million trees by 2020 as part of our Strategic Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution and prepare for climate impacts. Trees store carbon and contribute to clean air and water, healthy habitat for salmon and other wildlife, and more livable communities. (If you want to help, here’s our video showing how to plant a tree.)

This type of commitment reflects why the Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) is King County’s first carbon neutral agency — meaning we reduce and remove more greenhouse gas emissions than we generate.

1703_8302w_dnrp_tshirt_final_design800.png

Science is at the bedrock of what we do here at DNRP. We are specialists in marine biology, nearshore ecology, environmental chemistry, limnology, toxicology, wildlife biology and biodiversity, microbiology, zoology and more. Our employees collect, analyze, model and interpret information that supports dozens of environmental programs, including those that address land use, habitat management, wastewater treatment, salmon and biodiversity, water resources, and surface water management.

To us, every day is Earth Day!