Stories for Ecology's Eastern Region

Water Quality stories support the Water Quality Program's activities. Some stories may fall under more than one category, and are listed accordingly.


A Focused Assistance Program in Hangman Creek Watershed
The Hangman Creek Watershed is involved in a long process to develop a water quality improvement plan (also known as a total maximum daily load or TMDL). Hangman Creek and its tributaries generally have too much fecal coliform bacteria and sediment in the water during the high-flow winter and spring months. So a joint proposal was submitted to help landowners and produces employ best management practices (BMPs).
(Clean-up water pollution, Prevent and reduce nonpoint pollution)

A Little Farm Gets Some Big Changes: Owners reap benefits of cooperation
Ecology received an anonymous complaint about runoff from a “hobby” farm sitting on an unnamed tributary in north Spokane County. “Hobby” farms – those that are run more for recreational purposes than as a business – are still required to meet water quality standards on the property by the state of Washington. Staff from Ecology’s Spokane Water Quality office and the Spokane Conservation District (SCD) visited the site and met with property owners.
(Clean-up water pollution)

A Tale of the Swale: Getting turbid water off the streets
Archer Daniels Midland’s (ADM) Spokane grain milling plant property, bordered by railroad tracks and a heavily trafficked street, had significant stormwater runoff issues. The city of Spokane decided independently to cut the storm drain from the system and to install its own swale along a nearby street to catch the turbid stormwater. However, the potential for runoff water to overflow this swale and go down the street to the next available storm drain remained.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

A Pullman Partnership: Not Wishy-Washy about Preventing Stormwater Pollution
Each summer, charity carwashes pop up at various locations around the cities and towns we live in. What happens to all that grime and sudsy water flowing across the parking lot? If that dirty, sudsy water flows into a storm drain, there is a good chance it flows directly into a nearby stream. Technically that sudsy car wash water running into a catch basin is an illicit discharge. But no city wants to shut down a charity carwash, so Pullman sought a solution that would allow the carwashes to continue without dirty water entering nearby streams.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Clarifying the Permitting Process: Working in the Water Workshops
State employees bridging the gap between the permitting agencies and members of the public who want to complete a project in or near streams and lakes.
(Prevent and reduce nonpoint pollution)

Department of Ecology Joins Partners in Educational Mission
The future of our watersheds depend on our youth. This is why a group of natural resource professionals took part in the South Stevens Education Project, sponsored by Stevens County Conservation District and funded by Washington Department of Ecology.
(Other water quality-related)

Direct Seeding - The Environmental Magic Bullet
Soil erosion and pollution from agricultural pesticides and fertilizer have plagued the wheat-growing regions of eastern Washington State since the native prairie was converted to farmland. With the help of the State Revolving Fund, a group of farmers is using a new wave of direct seed technology which is reducing erosion, improving soil health, and encouraging more efficient use of water, fertilizer, and fuel.
(Prevent and reduce nonpoint pollution; Provide excellent technical and financial assistance)

Eastern Washington Veterans' Cemetery
This story covers a project to build Washington State's first cemetery for veterans of the armed forces. It will be located near the city of Medical Lake in Spokane County. Due to a seasonally-changing water table in the area, there would not be sufficient water for irrigating the cemetery land. Working with one of Ecology's reclaimed water engineers and one of their hydrogeologists, they were able to develop a strategy to use reclaimed water from the West Medical Lake's wastewater reclamation facility for irrigation.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Eliminating Dirty Discharges
A story of how a combination of observation, assistance, and cooperation helped reduce pollutants from industrial sites.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Estimating Natural Resources Damages from a Hypothetical Failure of a Mine Tailings Impoundment
Ecology’s Eastern Regional Office evaluated potential impacts and estimated restoration costs from a potential catastrophic failure of a metals mining tailings disposal facility. The study results will help determine the appropriate environmental performance bonding for the facility.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Forest and Fish Compliance Monitoring Program: Field Surveys
The Compliance Monitoring Program (CMP), created to evaluate how closely state forestry regulations are followed, strives to provide a sound evaluation of whether forestry activities, conducted on state and private lands, meet both the forest practice rules and the requirements of forest practices applications (FPAs). Over the long term, when enough FPAs have been surveyed to provide reliable estimates, the CMP hopes to accurately describe compliance both statewide and for each DNR region.
(Prevent and reduce nonpoint pollution)

Growing Pains in Pullman
How Ecology developed a working relationship with a construction company, which resulted in an improvement in the quality of stormwater discharges from construction sites.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Investing Time to Build Partnerships between Universities and Cities
The Department of Ecology, city of Cheney, and Eastern WA University seemed to be "finger-pointing" over wastewater treatment issues at Cheney′s wastewater treatment plan. Ecology staff facilitated discussions between the entities involved, which lead to the entities working as a team to develop solutions to the problem.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Keeping Pollutants out of Urban Waters
Recycling might be a great practice, but it can also be a source of pollution. After a Washington State Urban Waters Initiative team member’s inspection of a recycling site revealed several conditions that could result in storm events carrying pollutants off site, the recycler modified their existing best management practices (BMPs) and implemented new BMPs to address concerns.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Lake Spokane Shoreline Goes Au Naturel: What happens when you return to the basics?
A couple living along Lake Spokane (also known as Long Lake) recognized that their existing bulkhead was failing. They also understood that bulkheads can cause problems for neighbors by increasing erosion further down the shoreline. So they agreed to install a naturalized shoreline as a demonstration project to other Lake Spokane homeowners.
(Clean-up water pollution)

Liberty Lake: Finding Pollution Problems to Solve
During the startup of the Urban Waters Initiative in Ecology’s Eastern Regional Office, a pilot study was conducted around Liberty Lake to test sampling methods and procedures. The pilot study discovered problems that are now being resolved through cooperation between Ecology, the Spokane county Stormwater Department, and the Liberty Lake Neighborhood Council.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Newport Wastewater Treatment Plant: Extraordinary Diligence
The city of Newport Wastewater Treatment Plant received an award from the Department of Ecology for eleven straight years of perfect performance. The plant is one of few that have reached this milestone. To earn this award, treatment plants must go an entire calendar year without permit violations, and all required reports must be complete and submitted on time.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

NU CHEM Central Ferry: Unwanted Water Softener Waste - Garfield County
Consultants, company representatives, and local and state staff worked together to change a potentially problem water waste discharge to a product useful for controlling dust on dirt roads. This was done using existing equipment except for the purchase of a relatively inexpensive pump.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Pomeroy Wastewater Treatment Plant: Effluent Dissolved Oxygen Solution
The town of Pomeroy is required to maintain a minimum level of dissolved oxygen in their wastewater discharge. Unfortunately, the effluent dissolved-oxygen concentration was consistently lower than the permit limit. After reviewing the situation, an Ecology staffperson and the treatment plant operator came up with a cheap and reliable fix to the problem.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Riparian Restoration: A Collection of Landowner Perspectives
Perspectives of eleven eastern Washington landowners who installed one or more riparian restoration projects.
(Prevent and reduce nonpoint pollution)

Social Marketing Workshop: Learning to influence public behaviors to protect and enhance the environment
Ecology's Eastern Regional Office hosted a two-day workshop to help our partners acquire the skills needed to develop education and outreach campaigns that make a difference. This publication provides an overview of the project goals and highlights.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Solving Septic Impacts in the Colville Watershed
Data from a water quality improvement plan showed that failing septic systems were impacting some streams in the Colville River Watershed. Ecology worked with the Stevens County Conservation District and the Northeast Tri-County Health District to get grant funds to homeowners to help fix their septic systems, which helped reduce the fecal coliform bacteria load to the watershed.
(Clean-up water pollution)

Stormwater Sleuths Solve the Mystery of the Putrid Pipe
An investigation team in the city of Pullman found several illicit pipes and solved a recurring problem.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Straight to Implementation: Cleaner Water Faster
In smaller watersheds where the pollution problems are often easier to understand and fix, Ecology′s Water Quality staff in Eastern Regional Office piloted an approach called "Straight to Implementation." This method, which is faster and more implementation-focused, is showing success in a number of rural watershed in the eastern region of Washington State.
(Prevent and reduce nonpoint pollution)

Town of Washtucna: The Little Town that Wouldn't...and Didn't Give Up
When the town of Washtucna discovered that their wastewater treatment system was leaking and possibly impacting their ground water, they worked with Ecology and applied to various funding sources until they obtained the funding they needed to build a new wastewater treatment plant.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Transforming Watersheds: Couse Creek – Asotin County
Overview of the successful efforts to improve the water quality and fish habitat of Couse Creek in Asotin County.
(Provide excellent technical and financial assistance; Reduce Nonpoint Source Pollution)

Transforming Watersheds: Deadman Creek - Garfield County
Successful efforts to improve the water quality and fish habitat of Deadman Creek in Garfield County.
(Provide excellent technical and financial assistance; Reduce Nonpoint Source Pollution)

Transforming Watersheds - Middle Tucannon River - Columbia County
The Tucannon River, in Southeast Washington State, does not meet the state water quality standards for pH and temperature due to impacts from cattle grazing, and wheat and hay production in the area. To address these issues landowners, the Columbia Conservation District, Bonneville Power Administration, and other agencies worked together to develop the Tucannon Model Watershed. Their continued efforts are resulting in improved water quality and fish habitat.
(Clean-up water pollution)

Transforming Watersheds: Upper Alpowa Creek - Garfield County
Successful efforts to improve the water quality and fish habitat of Upper Alpowa Creek in Garfield County.
(Provide excellent technical and financial assistance; Reduce Nonpoint Source Pollution)

Transforming Watersheds: Palouse River - Whitman County
The Palouse River is the main artery of the great Palouse grasslands of eastern Washington. Recently it became clear the river needed help. It was failing state water quality standards for bacteria, temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and a variety of different toxic chemicals, making it one of the more polluted water bodies in the state. Using a variety of different funding sources the Palouse-Rock Lake Conservation District initiated several river restoration projects.
(Prevent and reduce nonpoint pollution)

Turbid Runoff and the Railroad
The Urban Waters Initiative is tasked with locating and eliminating sources of pollution being discharged to the Spokane River. Finding and fixing direct discharges of stormwater to the river are constant and perplexing problems. When the Urban Waters Initiative team found one such site, in the city of Spokane, we had to figure out who was responsible for the turbid runoff.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Unnatural Rock Makes for a More Natural Spokane River (video)
This video shows the unique work done to respond to requirements of Avista Corp.’s 401 Certification from the Department of Ecology, that was prepared to support Avista’s dam relicensing along the Spokane River. Aesthetics are one element to be considered in the 401 process along with water quality and other issues. Avista re-carved the river bottom to make the river look fuller and wider, even during low flows.
(Other water quality-related)

White Sturgeon Recovery Conservation Program
Under their Ecology-granted Water Quality Certification, the Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) is required to develop and implement a White Sturgeon Recovery Plan, in consultation with the Priest Rapids Fish Forum. The overall goal of the plan is to increase the natural reproduction of white sturgeon to achieve a population that is appropriate for the available habitat, while supporting recreational and tribal harvest. As part of the PUD′s efforts to restore these fish, more than 9,000 were released into the mid-Columbia River at the end of April 2011.
(Other water quality-related)

Wine Waste Woes! Collaborating to Clean up Crush
Wahluke Winery began operations in the Mattawa area in 2005, discharging their wastewater to the city of Mattawa wastewater treatment plant. For the next two years, the city of Mattawa’s treatment plant experienced many treatment upsets due to the high biological oxygen demand (BOD) and low pH from the winery wastewater. A treatment upset means the wastewater may not be treated to the proper level before it is discharged to the environment. Since the area is suitable for winery and fruit processing, the Port of Mattawa saw an opportunity to promote the growth of these industries, so they stepped up to help. The result was no more treatment upsets at the city of Mattawa wastewater treatment plant, and a useable product for irrigation.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Working Together To Prevent Treatment Upsets
A plant that makes paper boxes using ink to print images on boxes can produce unsightly wastewater. In 2010, International Paper Box Plant’s (IP) wastewater treament was not keeping inky water away from the city’s wastewater treament plant, so they looked at other treatments used at similar plants. With patience and working together, Ecology, the city of Moses Lake, and IP found a solution to the yucky black water and prevented future upsets t the city’s plant.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)

Working Together to Protect the Columbia River
This story describes how several government agencies, tribes, and other interested parties worked together, during the dam relicensing process, to identify actions which may help to reduce or remove negative impacts caused by the dams.
(Clean-up water pollution)

Year Round Land Treatment
Washington State’s water quality law and regulations require all facilities that discharge wastewater to apply AKART (All Known, Available, and Reasonable methods of Treatment) to their wastewater as a condition to be issued a wastewater discharge permit. Ecology worked with Basic American Foods, a potato processing facility, to re-engineer their wastewater discharge process so that it would meet the requirements for AKART and therefore be more protective of ground water in the area.
(Prevent and reduce point and stormwater pollution)


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Last updated April 2015