Water Quality Improvement Project
Clarks Creek Area:
Dissolved Oxygen and Sediment


Clarks Creek watershed is located in the lower Puyallup River watershed in the southern part of the region. Clarks Creek has a watershed area of about 13 square miles and an average flow of roughly 60 cubit feet per second (cfs). Clarks Creek flows year-round out of Maplewood Springs, with summer base flows of 30-40 cfs. Tributaries include the Rody, Diru, and Woodland Creeks, and Meeker Creek. Tributaries flow primarily in the wet season in response to rain. Clarks Creek is a salmon-bearing stream supporting chinook, coho, and chum salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout. (See Study Area map)

Water quality issues

Clarks Creek is an impaired water body due to low dissolved oxygen and sediment. Low dissolved oxygen levels, excess fine sediment and sand, and the overgrowth of elodea (Elodea nuttalii) create conditions in Clarks Creek that harm fish and their supporting habitat.

Clarks Creek and its tributaries also do not meet water quality standards for fecal coliform.

Status of the project

The draft Clarks Creek Dissolved Oxygen and Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load Water Quality Improvement Report and Implementation Plan (WQIR-IP) underwent public review from May 22 - July 21, 2014. A public meeting on the plan was held on June 10, 2014.

After addressing public comments Ecology finalized the WQIR-IP and submitted it to EPA for approval. EPA approved the final WQIR-IP in May 2015. The final version of the plan can be viewed at https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/SummaryPages/1410030.html.

For more information on presentations given at the June 10, 2014 public meeting see the following links:

The Washington State Department of Ecology worked with a stakeholder group (Pierce County, city of Puyallup, Washington State University Puyallup, local citizens, Washington State Department of Transportation, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, and EPA) to develop the plan.

The Clarks Creek Water Quality Improvement Plan assigns the amount of pollution the creek can receive and still meet water quality standards. Any additional amount of pollution needs to be reduced or eliminated to achieve clean water.

The plan lays out a framework for how the stakeholders will track, monitor, and implement the water cleanup plan. It outlines what must be done, establishes a schedule, and guides corrective actions with adaptive management practices. The pollution reductions should be achieved by 2035.

Stakeholder Committee Initiative Meeting Notes


Why this matters

Oxygen dissolved in healthy water is vital for fish and aquatic life to “breathe” to survive. It is more difficult to transfer oxygen from water to blood than it is to transfer oxygen from air to blood. Therefore, it is critical that an adequate amount of oxygen is maintained in the water for this transfer to take place efficiently and sustain aquatic life. Oxygen is also necessary to help decompose organic matter in the water and bottom sediments as well as for other biological and chemical processes.

Excess sediment loading contributes in a variety of ways to the dissolved oxygen problems in Clarks Creek. Sediment accumulation is an important factor in promoting dense growths of elodea that adversely impact dissolved oxygen concentrations. Elodea growth in turn slows flows in the creek, which reinforces sediment deposition and accumulation and leads to flooding problems. Sediment loads may also contain elevated nutrient concentrations that promote plant and bacterial growth. Sediment can be improved by controlling stormwater runoff and by adding or maintaining vegetation on stream banks.

Technical information

Clarks Creek Dissolved Oxygen and Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load Water Quality Improvement Report (Ecology publication)

Related information

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Last updated July 2016
  Map for water resource inventory area (WRIA) 10, Washington State.


WRIA: #10 (Puyallup-White)
County: Pierce

Water-body Name:
Clarks Creek

Dissolved Oxygen

# of TMDLs: 4

EPA approved, has implementation plan

Contact Info:
Donovan Gray
Phone: 360-407-6407
Email: Donovan.Gray@ecy.wa.gov

Southwest Regional Office
Department of Ecology
P.O. Box 47775
Lacey, WA 98504-7775