water

Environmental Assessment Program

Environmental Assessment Program photo

What We Measure: Parameters and Analytes

Ecology Scientists test for many different things to evaluate threats ranging from conventional pollutants, such as fecal coliform bacteria, nutrients, and temperature, to toxic contaminants and invasive aquatic weeds. Many of these are listed below. Those with live links have more information. Many of these parameters are addressed in Water Cleanup Plan (TMDL) Studies.

Toxics Studies measure for chemicals of concern, as does the Marine Sediment Monitoring team and the Groundwater Assessment group. These analyses are run by Manchester Environmental Laboratory.

Stream Flow studies include Continuous Streamflow Monitoring on many streams and rivers throughout Washington State.

Assessing groundwater

Plant and algae nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) are necessary for life, but too much is harmful. Nitrogen is often the nutrient of concern in marine waters. Nitrogen in the Puget Sound Ecosystem and a Deschutes River Continuous Nitrogen Monitoring project assesses nitrogen levels, as do long-term Marine Water Quality studies. General nitrogen information is available in Sources and Pathways of Nitrogen in the Sound and Effects of Nitrogen. Phosphorus is often the nutrient of concern for freshwater bodies. The long-term River and Stream Water Quality Monitoring project, Watershed Health Monitoring, and Forest Practices Effectiveness Monitoring assess fresh waters for this nutrient.

Dissolved Oxygen is necessary for aquatic life to thrive. Continuous Oxygen Sensing is available for many rivers and streams, and Dissolved Oxygen in Puget Sound highlights studies of this important element. River and Stream Water Quality Monitoring and Marine Water Quality Monitoring both test for dissolved oxygen levels.

Temperature assessments include Continuous Temperature Monitoring in many rivers and streams and on the Mulkilteo Marine Mooring. Find Thermal Imaging Radiation temperature studies and more at the Temperature Monitoring in Rivers and Streams page. Marine Water Quality MonitoringRiver and Stream Water Quality Monitoring, Forest Practices Effectiveness Monitoring, and Intensively Monitored Watersheds all test for temperature.

Turbidity is the measure of the clarity of a water body, the amount of solid matter suspended in the water. This is often measured in Total Suspended Solids or TSS. River and Stream Water Quality Monitoring, Forest Practices Effectiveness Monitoring, Intensively Monitored Watersheds, and Watershed Health Monitoring test for stream turbidity.

pH is the measure of the alkalinity or acidity. Ocean Acidification is one concern. River and Stream Water Quality Monitoring and Marine Water Quality Monitoring both test for pH.

Physical Habitat assessments tell about physical factors for fish to thrive, such as the presence of large woody debris and gravel. Intensively Monitored Watersheds and Watershed Health Monitoring assess physical habitat.

Aquatic Plants include different types of Algae (See freshwater Algae Bloom Monitoring and Marine Algae Blooms). Learn about Invasive Plants. We work to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species through our fieldwork and guidance.

Aquatic Life studies in water include Freshwater Benthic Invertebrates (Stream Biological Monitoring) and Marine Benthic Invertebrates (See Marine Sediment Monitoring).

Bacteria can be toxic to other life. River and Stream Water Quality Monitoring tests freshwater, and the BEACH Program tests marine swimming beaches for fecal coliform and other harmful bacteria.