From Source Assessment to Implementation Success – Water Cleanup Planning and the East Fork Lewis Ri

Year: 2020
Presenter/s: Jennifer Riedmayer
Symposium Session: 2020 - 09 A watershed in transition: Salmon recovery in the East Fork Lewis River
Topics covered: adaptive management and monitoring, beavers, community involvement, floodplain, lessons learned, riparian, risk and resilience, stormwater, and stream


The East Fork Lewis River and its tributaries are listed on the state’s polluted waters list (303d list) for warm water temperatures and fecal coliform bacteria problems. Keeping the watershed clean is important because high levels of bacteria increase risks to people swimming, wading, or fishing. Also, high temperatures create poor conditions for fish and other wildlife.
The Washington State Department of Ecology’s Water Quality Program has been a key partner in the EFLR watershed since 2005, when Ecology prioritized the watershed for the development of a TMDL Alternative (Water Cleanup Plan). In 2018, the East Fork Lewis River Watershed Bacteria and Temperature Source Assessment was published to support water cleanup planning and implementation. This is the first Source Assessment completed by Ecology in Southwest Washington to analyze water quality data, identify critical areas, and develop general recommendations to improve water quality.

Priority areas for bacteria and temperature improvement are located in the middle and lower sections of the watershed. All mainstem sites sampled in the East Fork Lewis River did not meet temperature water quality standards. Shade deficits over 40% are located in the middle watershed between river miles 9 to 13. Priority areas to address bacteria are tributaries in the lower watershed. To meet bacteria standards in the lower tributaries, bacteria reductions of 81-96% are needed.

To implement recommendations from the Source Assessment, the East Fork Lewis River Partnership was launched in May 2018 to work collaboratively with local, state, federal, and tribal governments, non-profits, watershed groups, and private landowners to develop and implement a Water Cleanup Plan. Since the partnership was launched, over 50 different partners from 30 different organizations have engaged in East Fork Lewis River Partnership activities. The success of water cleanup plans relies on establishing, maintaining, and leveraging partnerships, and increasing public awareness as principal tools to achieve improved water quality.

Currently, multiple new projects and programs are being developed in the watershed. All of these programs are voluntary, and help achieve water quality and salmon recovery goals, while reducing threats identified in the recent LCFRB East Fork Lewis River Recovery Plan Review. Priorities for long-term implementation include addressing threats from septic systems, stormwater, and agriculture, and enhancing riparian forest restoration efforts in the watershed.

This presentations highlights:

How Ecology developed a Source Assessment and Water Cleanup Plan for the East Fork Lewis River watershed.
How a shade deficit analysis was completed to identify priority locations for future riparian restoration efforts. Past restoration and acquisition successes in the watershed will also be highlighted.
New efforts to reduce bacteria in the watershed which include proactive nonpoint source investigation, manure lagoon decommissioning, stormwater management activities, and the development of a new pollution identification and correction program to address failing septic systems and agricultural challenges in the watershed.
This session will end with recommended next steps to achieve water quality and salmon recovery goals in the East Fork Lewis River watershed.