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Rick Dinicola,
Associate Director, WA Water Science Center,
934 Broadway,
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Tacoma, WA 98402

(253) 552-1603
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Satus Creek

Project Summaries

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9722-AFC - Restoration Monitoring of Satus Creek and the Satus Wildlife Area, Yakama Nation Reservation - Completed FY2004

Problem - Agricultural return flows are known to contribute suspended sediment, nutrients, bacteria, metals, and pesticide loads to creeks and rivers in the Yakima River Basin. In particular, Satus Creek, located on Yakama Nation lands, receives loads from the North Drain return flow, with resulting documented increases in sediment, nutrients, bacteria, and pesticides, both in the water column and in the bed sediments. In addition, the deposition of suspended sediment from the North Drain return flow has created barriers to the migration of Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed fish. A large-scale restoration effort by the Yakama Nation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently being conducted to improve the aquatic ecosystem associated with Satus Creek and the Satus Wildlife Area. Several salmonids that are currently listed under the ESA have historically used Satus Creek for part of their life-history stages. In addition, a large part of the production in the basin of one of these species (anadromous steelhead trout) occurs in Satus Creek. The Satus Wildlife Area also is an important component in the restoration of habitat for wildlife and fish in the lower Yakima River Basin.

In order to complete the feasibility study for the restoration, determine the outcome of the effort, and provide proof of the effects, the system needs to be monitored over time.

Objectives - Monitor the hydrologic, water-quality, and possibly the biologic effects of the North Satus Drain Ecosystem Restoration to identify temporal and spatial changes in the system.

Relevance and Benefits - Because many of the return flows in the basin are in similar settings, restoration work by the USACE has the potential to be transferable throughout the basin, and to other basins, with many benefits. Understanding the temporal and spatial variations of the hydrologic system, including the dynamics of agricultural return flows, and how this system changes with restoration efforts is important to improving water quality in agricultural systems and supports USGS strategic goals to increase research in the evaluation of the effects of human management on hydrologic systems; provide information to address questions of aquatic habitat suitability for biota; and obtain a better understanding of ground-water/surface-water interactions as related to agricultural water management. This project also supports the FY2002 Program Priorities of the Cooperative Water Program by determining linkages between agricultural practices and contaminants; providing a more quantitative understanding of the sources and transport of chemicals entering the streams; and understanding the effectiveness of ecosystem restoration efforts, with special emphasis on the role of wetlands.

Approach - Compile selected historical data that are available for Satus Creek, local shallow ground water, and North Drain. Monitor the current baseline conditions and the conditions after the restoration work is completed. The conditions will be determined by monitoring the hydrologic system and its associated water quality before, during, and after the redirecting of North Drain.

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