Water Quality Improvement Project
Burnt Bridge Creek
The 27-square-mile Burnt Bridge Creek watershed is located in Clark
County in southwest Washington. The creek's headwaters begin in agricultural
fields on the eastern edge of Vancouver. After flowing approximately 13
miles through the heart of the city, Burnt Bridge Creek drains into the
eastern end of Vancouver Lake. Two minor tributaries, Peterson Channel and
Burton Channel, flow into Burnt Bridge Creek in eastern Vancouver. An
additional tributary, Cold Creek, flows through unincorporated Clark County
and joins Burnt Bridge Creek approximately 2 miles upstream of Vancouver
Lake. Most of the eastern two-thirds of the creek consists of a channelized
ditch constructed in the 1800s to drain land for farming. Approximately 80
percent of the entire length of the creek now flows through a highly
(See Study Area
Water quality issues
Water quality has been monitored extensively in Burnt Bridge Creek since
1972. Based on data collected in 1991 through 1993, the creek was
included on the 1996 303(d) list, the first comprehensive listing of
impaired surface waters in the state. Subsequent data collected by the
city of Vancouver and Ecology show continued exceedances of water
Why this matters
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
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
water body. 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 water body by adding or
retaining streamside vegetation.
The pH value of a water body is an indication of how acidic or
alkaline it is. Fish and other aquatic species thrive in water with pH values
between 6.5 and 8.5 (7 is considered neutral). When pH values are outside this
range, other contaminants in the water may become more harmful to aquatic life.
Problems with pH are often related to excess algae or plant growth in the
Status of the project
Burnt Bridge Creek was selected for a Water Quality Improvement Plan, also
known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), in fall 2007. A TMDL includes:
assessment of the water quality problems.
- A technical analysis to determine how
much pollution must be reduced from all sources to meet water quality standards.
- The selection and implementation of appropriate control measures.
monitoring to determine the success of the effort.
In spring 2008, Ecology formed a Burnt Bridge Creek TMDL Advisory Committee
comprised of city, county and state governments, local citizens, and other
stakeholders. Ecology held the first Advisory Committee meeting on April 14,
2008 and a public meeting on May 20, 2008 to describe the TMDL process, timeline
and study, answer questions, and solicit feedback on issues and concerns.
Intensive water quality monitoring, which included surface water, ground water,
and stormwater, began in June 2008 and ended in August 2009. The monitoring data
will be used to model current creek conditions and various management scenarios.
Quality Assurance Project Plan: Burnt Bridge Creek Fecal Coliform Bacteria,
Dissolved Oxygen, and Temperature Total Maximum Daily Load-Water Quality Study
Design (Ecology publication)
Department of Ecology’s June 5, 2008 Response to Comments: May 2008 Draft
Burnt Bridge Creek Fecal Coliform Bacteria, Dissolved Oxygen, and Temperature
Total Maximum Daily Load Quality Assurance Project Plan (PDF)
Map of Burnt Bridge Creek Total Maximum Daily Load Study Monitoring Sites
Quarterly Progress Reports for TMDL Study
Focus on Burnt Bridge Creek
May 20, 2008, Public Meeting Presentations:
March 11, 2009 Advisory Committee Presentations:
22, 2010 Advisory Committee presentation
City of Vancouver Public Works web site
WRIA 28: Salmon-Washougal
Watershed Information (Water web site)
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