USGS Washington Water Science Center
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The Cedar River watershed provides two-thirds of the water supply for the greater Seattle metropolitan region, in addition to being home to numerous terrestrial and aquatic organisms such as salmon, some of which are Federally listed as threatened species. The City of Seattle is establishing monitoring plans for the Cedar River watershed to effectively manage the resource. A critical component of the plan is an assessment of the condition of the aquatic system and the effects of human activities, for the purpose of habitat restoration. Samples of macroinvertebrates representing the benthic invertebrate communities in the watershed were collected for use in the assessment.
To help the City of Seattle with this component of the watershed monitoring plan, the USGS is identifying the types and numbers of various organisms in the benthic invertebrate communities, based on the samples collected, to develop a benthic index of biological integrity (BIBI). Scientists are using information generated from the BIBI to evaluate the condition of the Cedar River's aquatic biological integrity or health, identify the effects of activities such as timber harvesting, road construction, and road maintenance on the aquatic system, and help the City of Seattle prioritize watershed restoration projects. As part of the study, the USGS will evaluate the effectiveness of the BIBI, one of the more popular but controversial monitoring tools in biological stream monitoring. Results of the study will provide valuable baseline data that can also be used by other local, State, and Federal biological monitoring programs, both now and in the future.