scenic picture from Washington state
SubjectsEnvironment › Water Resources and Water Quality
Updated 05/2013

Water Resources and Water Quality

Contents

Introduction

This page provides an overview of water resource planning and issues related to water quality as it affects local governments. It highlights some local programs, provides information resources, and gives links to other MRSC pages relating to mandated actions that protect water resources and ensure water quality and quantity including storm and surface water management, watershed planning, and water conservation.

The state Department of Ecology (DOE) works closely with Washington communities and their citizens to provide effective water management. In the past, Washington has enjoyed an abundance of water, but water availability is no longer a state luxury. Washington is committed to meeting current water needs and ensuring future water availability for people, fish and the natural environment. See DOE's water resources program at Water Resources, Washington State Department of Ecology. It includes information on the Office of the Columbia River, conservancy boards, dam safety, instream flow, measuring water use, rainwater collection, water rights, water market, water resource program activities, watershed management, wells, and the Yakima Basin.

Water Resource Planning

  • Chehalis River Council, Chehalis River Basin - A local, grassroots environmental organization working to conserve and protect the natural resources of the Chehalis River Watershed
  • Chelan County Natural Resources Department Water Resources
  • Island County Public Health Water Resources Management Plan, adopted by the Board of Island County Commissioners, 06/20/2005
  • King County Hydrologic Information Center
  • Regional Water Supply Planning - Multiple agencies and organizations working together to develop data, information and pragmatic tools to assist in water resource and supply planning activities in the region. Members include Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Washington Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Health, Public Health - Seattle & King County, King County, Pierce County, City of Auburn, Suburban Cities Association, Cascade Water Alliance, Cedar River Water and Sewer District, Lakehaven Utility District, Seattle Public Utilities, Tacoma Public Utilities, Woodinville Water District, Shared Strategy for Puget Sound, Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Washington Environmental Council, and King County Business Community - Site hosted by King County
  • San Juan County Health and Community Services Water Resource Management - Includes Water Resource Management Plan, Watershed Management Action Plan, and water reports
  • Skagit County Water Resources Management
  • Whatcom County Natural Resources Comprehensive Water Resource Plan - Covers water supply, fish/shellfish, surface water management, and coordinated planning and management. Element Two addresses Salmon Recovery/Endangered Species, February 1999, plus updates
  • Yakima Basin Surface Water Initiatives, Yakima County Surface Water Management Division - Participates in planning processes that effect water quality, water quantity and flow management, groundwater, and riverine habitats. The division supplies technical information to these planning processes and also assists the Yakima County Commissioners who

Clean Water, Water Quality

The objective of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act (CWA), is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters by preventing point and nonpoint pollution sources, providing assistance to publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands. See Clean Water Act, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This version is on EPA's Agriculture website and provides detailed subheadings and related topics.

  • Water Quality Program, Washington State Department of Ecology - The goals of the state's water quality program are to prevent and clean up water pollution and to help communities make sustainable choices that reduce and prevent water quality problems.
  • Puget Sound Partnership - The Puget Sound Partnership is a community effort of citizens, governments, tribes, scientists and businesses working together to restore and protect Puget Sound.
  • Polluted Runoff: Nonpoint Source Pollution, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Provides links to EPA water pollution topics
  • Regulatory Topics Water , U.S Environmental Protection Agency - EPA enforces federal clean water and safe drinking water laws, provides support for municipal wastewater treatment plants, and takes part in pollution prevention efforts aimed at protecting watersheds and sources of drinking water.

Clean Water Programs

Many of these programs include public education and outreach.

  • Clark County Clean Water Program The program's primary activities include stormwater capital improvements, water quality monitoring, public education and outreach, regulations and enforcement, and stormwater maintenance. As the county's population continues to increase, Water Resources is committed to keeping our waterways clean for people, fish, and wildlife.
  • King County Stormwater Services and Information
  • Olympia Storm and Surface Water Education and Action
  • Skagit County Public Works Clean Water Program - The goal of the Clean Water Program is to address and deal with non-point pollution and to enhance Skagit County's water quality. It consists of a myriad of activities directed at educating the public, controlling storm water pollution, developing water quality monitoring plans, and restoring habitats among many other goals.
  • Vancouver Water Resources Education Center
  • Storm and Surface Water Management, MRSC - Provides links to regulations, best management practices, and local regulations

Animal Waste, Agricultural Practices

  • Dairy Nutrient Management, Washington State Department of Agriculture - A water quality program administered by Washington State Department of Agriculture under Chapter RCW 90.64, Dairy Nutrient Management Act. Elements of the program are managed in conformance with a Memorandum of Understanding with the Washington State Department of Ecology. Ecology is the delegated agency in Washington for the Federal Clean Water Act.
  • Washington Home *A* Syst, Washington State University, Water Quality Management Team - Home and Farm*A*Syst programs provide voluntary and confidential water quality/environmental risk assessments you can use to evaluate your home and/or farm property for pollution and health risks. Although its emphasis is on protecting drinking water resources, following the "best management practices," the program also helps protect the entire watershed's water quality.
  • Animal Waste Management, Washington State Department of Ecology
  • Animal Wastes, Manure, MRSC - Provides information on the relationship of pet waste to water pollution and provides sample local ordinances regulating pet waste

Boating and Marinas

The state Department of Ecology, Washington Parks, and Washington Sea Grant offer programs for pollution prevention education and funding for boat maintenance and repair, oil spills, sewage disposal, and other water pollution topics associated with boating and marinas. Some of these programs are listed on MRSC's Water Recreation - Beaches, Boating, and Marinas page under the heading Pollution Prevention and Environmental Health.

Lake and Beach Management Districts

In 2008 the lake management district provisions were amended to include the formation of beach management districts (Laws of 2008, ch. 301). The purpose of the lake and beach district legislation is to establish a governmental mechanism by which property owners can embark on a program of lake or beach improvement and maintenance.

Shellfish Protection Districts

These provisions encourage, and in some cases, require counties to establish shellfish protection districts and programs to curb the loss of productive shellfish beds caused by nonpoint sources of pollution, such as stormwater runoff, failing on-site sewage systems, and runoff from farm animal wastes.

Pharmaceutical Contaminants in Water

Additional References

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Department of Interior
    • Bureau of Reclamation - The Bureau's mission is to assist in meeting the increasing water demands of the West while protecting the environment and the public's investment in these structures. Emphasis is placed on fulfilling its water delivery obligations, water conservation, water recycling and reuse, and developing partnerships with our customers, states, and Native American Tribes, and in finding ways to bring together the variety of interests to address the competing needs for our limited water resources.
    • National Irrigation Water Quality Program - The NIWQP is an intra-departmental program that evaluates Department of the Interior irrigation projects to: Consider drain water contamination and related impacts to endangered species and/or migratory birds; assess legal responsibilities that are associated with environmental laws, and develop and implement alternatives for remediation.
    • National Water Quality Assessment Data Warehouse, U.S. Geological Survey - Systematically collects chemical, biological, and physical water quality data from 51 study units (basins) across the nation.
    • Water Resources of Washington State, U.S. Geological Survey - Provides links to water resource information on Washington's rivers and streams, ground water, water quality, and many other topics. The USGS operates the most extensive satellite network of stream-gaging stations in the state, many of which form the backbone of flood-warning systems.
  • State of Washington Water Research Center, Washington State University
  • Center for Urban Waters, research center led by the University of Washington, Tacoma - A community of environmental scientists, analysts, engineers and policymakers developing creative and sustainable solutions to restore and protect urban waterways
  • Washington State Ground Water Association
  • Washington State Water Resources Association - Irrigation districts
  • Water, Washington State University Extension, Natural Resources - Provides links to information on urban water, water quality, and watersheds
  • Water Providers, MRSC Water Utility Page - Includes regional water providers and associations

Need more information?

Feel free to Ask MRSC. Washington cities, counties, and our contract partners can call or email MRSC for more information and advice - free of charge.