Water Quality Improvement Project
East Fork Lewis River
The East Fork Lewis River sub-basin is located in Clark and Skamania
Counties, in the southwest corner of the state. It subbasin drains 212
square miles, of which the lower 167 square miles are within Clark County.
The upper part of the subbasin is in Skamania County, in the Gifford Pinchot
National Forest. Clark County owns over 700 acres (2.6 square miles) of
riparian land throughout much of the lower East Fork Lewis River valley.
The sub-basin includes a couple of small towns, but the majority of the
watershed consists of small-acreage private properties. Clark County owns a
significant amount of riparian area throughout much of the lower East Fork Lewis
River valley, with much of that in large parcels of designated park land.
Water quality issues
The East Fork Lewis River sub-basin has been extensively studied by many
groups because of its importance for fish resources and its high potential for
salmon recovery. Historically, the sub-basin has supported thousands of fall
Chinook, chum, coho, and winter and summer steelhead.
Waters placed on the
of impaired water bodies require the preparation of a total maximum daily
load (TMDL) study. It identifies sources of the impairments and how much
pollution each source contributes. It then recommends strategies for reducing
pollution "loads" from point and nonpoint sources.
What we have done
We conducted water quality sampling in 2005 and 2006. However, due to
constraints on resources, we put the East Fork Lewis River study put on hold.
The stakeholders continued implementing clean-up activities in the East Fork
Lewis River watershed. We gave a grant to Clark Public Utilities. They completed
a stream bank restoration project on Lockwood Creek in 2008.
Status of the project
In February 2017, we started to collect new fecal coliform data to see how
bacteria concentrations have changed. This collection effort will continue
through January 2018. We will analyze and compare this data with our 2005-06
results and develop a source assessment report. The report will describe
temperature and fecal coliform problems throughout the watershed.
We will work collaboratively with these groups to develop a coordinated water
- Clark County
- City of La Center
- City of Battle Ground
- City of Yacolt
- The Cowlitz Tribe
- Fish enhancement groups
- Clark Conservation District
- Local citizens
The Source Assessment Report and the document outlining
cleanup efforts will be available in the summer of 2018. The
following documents are available:
What you can do to help
There are several actions you can take to help water quality throughout the
East Fork Lewis River watershed.
Moulton Falls, Lucia falls, Lewisville, and Paradise Point State Park are all
great places to visit with family and friends. While you are enjoying the great
outdoors, take all trash with you when you leave, or place it in a secure
dumpster. Leftover food and trash not only looks and smells bad, it invites
wildlife and pests which adds to possible bacteria problems in the water you
have come to enjoy. Also, if you have brought your favorite four legged friends
— make sure you clean up their messes.
If you own property along the river make sure you maintain your septic
system. This not only saves you money it protects the water we all enjoy on a
hot sunny day.
The East Fork Lewis is a large watershed and water feeding the river comes
off the neighboring landscape through creeks, wetlands, swales, and roadside
ditches. If you have small acreage or a small farm, it's essential to follow
best practices for field management and livestock to help keep the river
fishable and swimmable, as a place family and friends come to visit.
Fecal coliform bacteria from human and animal waste can make people
sick. Bacteria can get into our waters from untreated or partially treated
discharges from wastewater treatment plants, from improperly functioning septic
systems, and from livestock, pets and wildlife.
People can help keep bacteria out of the water. Bag and trash dog poop. Check
your on-site sewage system to make sure it is maintained and working properly.
Fence livestock out of streams and use manure management practices that protect
Water temperature influences what types of organisms can live in a
waterbody. Cooler water can hold more dissolved oxygen that fish and other
aquatic life need to breathe. Warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen.
Threatened and endangered salmon need cold, clean water to survive.
One way to cool water temperature is to shade the waterbody by adding or
retaining streamside vegetation.
Washington State University Extension
Small Acreage: Living on the Land
WRIA 27: Lewis
Watershed Information (Water web site)
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