Water Quality Improvement Project
Little Klickitat River Area:


Two separate TMDL efforts have taken place on the Little Klickitat River. The first study for biological oxygen demand (BOD) and Chlorine pertains primarily to the Goldendale wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The second study of in-stream temperature applies to the Little Klickitat watershed. (See study map.)

Water quality issues

Pollutant sources for BOD and chlorine were identified in the TMDL as the city of Goldendale's WWTP at river mile 14.1 and nonpoint sources. Nutrients and fecal coliform bacteria are the primary nonpoint pollutants- due to livestock access to the river and runoff from pastures, agricultural areas and urban stormwater. Nonpoint pollutant sources were not considered contributors to potential instream oxygen depression nor chlorine toxicity and were not included in the TMDL analysis for BOD and chlorine.

Temperature is a water quality concern because most aquatic organisms, including salmonids, are “cold-blooded” and are strongly influenced by water temperature (Schuett-Hames et al.,1999). Temperature is a major concern in the lower Little Klickitat River and Bowman Creek because of the use of its waters by steelhead, a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, as a migration corridor and as spawning and rearing habitat. Elevated temperature and altered channel morphology resulting from various land-use activities, such as timber harvest and agriculture, limit available spawning and rearing habitat for steelhead.

Why this matters

Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) is the amount of oxygen required by aerobic microorganisms (organisms that need oxygen to survive) to break down organic matter in water. It can be used to measure the amount of water pollution in a water body.

Water temperature influences what types of organisms can live in a water body. Cooler water can hold more dissolved oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to breathe. Warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen. Many fish need cold, clean water to survive.

One way to cool water temperature is to shade the water body by adding or retaining streamside vegetation.

Status of the project

Many existing regulations, agreements, and planning processes potentially affect stream improvements in the Little Klickitat River Watershed. Actions taken pursuant to the Water Quality Implementation Plan fall into three categories: voluntary stewardship actions; actions taken in accordance with a law, legal agreement, or existing planning process; and monitoring activities. Education and stewardship activities will be completed as quickly as possible. Actions that are taken in accordance with an existing planning process, law or legal agreement, if applicable, will be completed within the time frame prescribed by the planning document, law or legal agreement.

Voluntary stewardship activities include: planting native vegetation near streams to restore the riparian zones, fencing livestock away from riparian zones where possible, develop farm plans to address temperature, provide off-channel water sources for livestock, change agricultural practices to no-till methods to reduce soil erosion and protect the soils.

The implementation plan for the temperature TMDL was completed in 2005, and a copy sent to EPA.

Technical information

Unless otherwise specified, the following documents are Ecology publications.

BOD and Chlorine:

Little Klickitat River Biological Oxygen Demand Total Maximum Daily Load


Quality Assurance Project Plan: Little Klickitat River Temperature Total Maximum Daily Load

Little Klickitat River Watershed Temperature Total Maximum Daily Load

Little Klickitat River Watershed Temperature Total Maximum Daily Load: Submittal Report

Little Klickitat River Watershed Temperature TMDL: Detailed Implementation Plan

Quality Assurance Project Plan:  Little Klickitat River and Swale Creek Implementation Project

Related information

Focus on the Little Klickitat River (Ecology Publication)

The New Klickitat Wastewater Treatment Plant (Ecology water quality story)

WRIA 30: Klickitat Watershed Information (Water website)


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Last updated August 2016
  Water resource inventory area (WRIA) 30 map, Washington State.


#30 (Klickitat)

Water-body Name:
Little Klickitat River


# of TMDLs:
BOD and Chlorine: 2
Temperature: 7

Has an implementation plan

Contact Info:
Mark Peterschmidt
Phone: 509-454-7843
Email: Mark.Peterschmidt@ecy.wa.gov

Central Region
Department of Ecology
1250 West Alder Street
Union Gap, WA 98903-0009