Water Quality photo identifier

Land use and Nonpoint Pollution

Lower Granite Juvenile Fish Barge photo. Author unknown.

Nonpoint Pollution from Working in the Water

People have modified many stream systems in Washington, with considerable effect on the landscape. Dams, tide gates, culverts, bridges, piers, bulkheads and jetties, and the dredging and placement of fill have benefited people and the economy, but at the expense of aquatic ecosystems and fish habitat. Channelization disturbs stream beds and increases scouring and bank erosion. It may also cause changes in pH, metals concentration, dissolved oxygen, instream flow, and nutrient levels.

Some of these problems are addressed through wetlands restoration programs and fish and wildlife habitat programs. Permits for dredging or stabilizing stream banks are reviewed and conditioned by state agencies, local government and the Corps of Engineers. Advice for people doing projects in the water can be found in the Ecology booklet "Working in the Water".

New tools to examine project impacts and watershed function are being developed. Salmon Habitat and Restoration Guidelines helps resource managers design projects that have the least impact to salmon. The Puget Sound Characterization is a regional-scale tool that highlights the most important areas to protect, and restore, and those most suitable for development. The Characterization includes watershed assessments that prioritize small watersheds, or habitat areas, relative to one another for their protection and restoration value.

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Last updated January 2013