USGS Washington Water Science Center
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The Issue: Water diverted from the upper White River to maintain water levels in Lake Tapps impacts flows and fish resources in the White River. In the lower White River, releases of warm water from Lake Tapps for hydropower generation frequently lowered concentrations of dissolved oxygen and increased water temperatures at river mile 1.8. In the White River diversion reach, has segments that are were listed on the Washington State 2008 303(d) list for pH, temperature, and fecal coliform bacteria; and the White River near the mouth at RM 0.4 is on the 303(d) list for dissolved oxygen. The Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) process has begun for pH and fecal coliform impairments on the White River. In 2004, power generation ceased and the Cascade Water Alliance took over the operation of the White River diversion and water levels of Lake Tapps. These changes in organizational structure and water management resulted in an awareness of the need to collect baseline water-quality information from the river and the lake under new operational procedures and flow regimes.
How the USGS will help: The Cascade Water Alliance and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will develop and implement a cooperative monitoring program to assess baseline water quality under the new flow regime in the White River and in Lake Tapps for evaluation of future trends. The initial phase of this program described in this proposal will involve the collection of water-quality information from June-December, 2010 at select sites on the White River, Lake Tapps, and the major inflow channel to and outflow channel from the reservoir. The program will include both continuous monitoring of primary physical water-quality properties and discrete sampling of selected constituents. Nitrogen and phosphorus, the primary nutrients that regulate plant growth in aquatic ecosystems, will be sampled in Lake Tapps and its inflow and outflow.