Water Quality Improvement Project
North Fork Palouse River:
Fecal Coliform


The north fork of the Palouse River is a sub-watershed within the larger Palouse River basin that begins at its headwaters in Latah County, Idaho. From the Hoodoo Mountains of Idaho, the watershed continues west through timbered uplands towards the Idaho/Washington state line. Bordered on the north by the North South Ski Bowl and Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park in Benewah and Latah counties, and the Palouse Range (Moscow Mountain) to the south, the watershed extends westward toward lower elevations. As the drainage crosses into Washington, the river flows through pasture and farmland towards Colfax, where the north and south forks of the Palouse River merge. This segment from the Idaho state line to Colfax is locally referred to as the “North Fork Palouse River.”

Water quality issues

The North Fork Palouse River has high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. This condition violates water quality standards, which are designed to protect streams for the various ways that people and wildlife use them.

To learn more about the importance of these various parameters, please see our water quality impairments page.

Status of the project

In 2000, the Palouse Conservation District initiated a watershed planning effort to address the fecal coliform bacteria problem in the North Fork Palouse watershed. This process was funded by the Washington State Legislature, the Washington State Conservation Commission and the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology). The Palouse Conservation District conducted water quality monitoring and formed a local watershed committee to develop a water cleanup plan for fecal coliform bacteria.

The Palouse Conservation District conducted water quality monitoring, and with the watershed committee and their contractor (Resource Planning Unlimited, Inc.) they drafted a water quality improvement plan (PDF) outlining steps needed to improve water quality. Ecology used the data from the monitoring to set target allocations to meet water quality standards. Ecology used these allocations and the implementation plan developed by the work group to write the final water cleanup plan (TMDL) submittal report. This submittal report went through a 30-day public comment period and was presented to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval on February 7, 2005. EPA approved the TMDL submittal report on March 21, 2005.

After the TMDL was approved, Ecology worked with local agencies and organizations to develop a water quality implementation plan. This plan outlines the steps that will be taken to meet the targets established in the TMDL. The water quality implementation plan went through a 30-day public comment period and was completed in June 2006. Several implementation activities are currently underway.

Technical information

North Fork Palouse River Fecal Coliform Total Maximum Daily Load: Submittal Report (Ecology publication)

North Fork Palouse River Fecal Coliform Total Maximum Daily Load: Water Quality Implementation Plan (Ecology publication)

Fecal Coliform Bacteria TMDL Load Recommendations (Ecology publication)

Related information

North Fork Palouse River Water Quality Improvement Plan (Palouse Conservation District)
www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/tmdl/palouse/NFPRwqimproveplan.pdf (PDF)

Palouse Conservation District

WRIA 34: Palouse Watershed Information (Environmental Assessment Program web site)


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Last updated June 2013


WRIA: #34 (Palouse)
County: Whitman

Water-body Names:
North Fork Palouse River
Clear Creek
Cedar Creek
Silver Creek

Fecal coliform bacteria

# of TMDLs: 4

TMDL approved by EPA
Has implementation plan.

Contact Info:
Elaine Snouwaert
Phone: 509-329-3503
Email: Elaine.Snouwaert@ecy.wa.gov

Eastern Region
Department of Ecology
4601 N Monroe Street
Spokane, WA 99205-1295