Why is this a priority?
Water quality is important to sustain public health and public enjoyment of waters, and the propogation and protection of fish, shellfish, and wildlife. The water quality standards are the basis for protecting and regulating the quality of surface waters in Washington State. These standards set limits for various "pollutants" such as bacteria that can make people sick and low oxygen levels that can cause fish kills. The water quality index is a unitless number that represents the cumulative effect of these pollutants on a waterbody.
How are we doing?
The first step towards restoring impacted waters is to identify problems. The WQI can be used to identify geographic areas with water quality problems. The WQI also allows "drilling down" from the overall score to scores for individual parameters (what parameters are of particular concern?) and scores for individual months (during what months are problems most common?). The index can even be used to evaluate trends (is overall water quality getting better or worse?). At this time, the earliest projection to meet the target for the major rivers is 2025.
What are we working on?
- The WQI scores provide an overall
status on the condition of Washington's waters. There is a lot of useful
information that goes into generating a single WQI score. We are working
on unrolling the WQI scores to show details in trends over time, water
quality parameters of most concern, and regional differences.
- One of our goals is to add more
continuous monitoring to our water quality monitoring network. These data
provide insight into daily fluctuations of water quality parameters that
are not possible with the traditional grab sample. Continuous monitoring
data provides information on the changes to water quality during storm
events. We are working on making continuous monitoring data available in
real time on our website.
- We are increasing our efforts with
effectiveness monitoring to see how Total Maximum Daily Load studies
(TMDLs) and agricultural best management practices are improving water
quality. We are partnering with five different conservation districts to
evaluate how water quality parameters are impacted by cleanup efforts. One
project shows a significant difference in sediment in the stream where
buffers are put in place.
How can you help?
You can improve water quality by:
· Maintaining your car - preventing leaks and drips,
· Inspecting your septic system annually and pumping as needed,
· Washing your car at a car wash; and
· Cleaning up after your pet