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STUDY UNIT DESIGN


Map showing GROUND-WATER CHEMISTRY

The Puget Sound Basin study was designed to address local and national goals of providing widely comparable water-quality data focused on stream chemistry, stream ecology, and ground-water chemistry.

Of the 12 major and numerous minor tributaries to the Puget Sound, sampling was concentrated in four representative drainage basins: the Nooksack and Green River Basins with varied land uses, the Thornton Creek Basin in a totally urban environment, and the Skokomish River Basin, which is mostly forested.

Some sampling was done outside these areas for special studies, such as the study of pesticides in urban streams. Wells sampled for the survey of ground-water quality in the Study Unit were distributed throughout the Puget Lowlands.

Map showing STREAM CHEMISTRY

Agricultural effects on ground-water quality and changes in quality along flow paths were evaluated using wells located in the lower Nooksack River Basin. Wells sampled in residential areas surrounding Olympia and Tacoma were used for determining urban land-use effects on shallow ground-water quality.

Stream ecology, bed sediment, and aquatic biota sampling was done at all the fixed stream-chemistry sites, and one or more of these types of samples were collected at 14 other sites. Two-thirds of the sites were within the Puget Lowlands, while the remainder were in other ecoregions (Black and Silkey, 1998).

 

 

 

Map showing STREAM ECOLOGY

 

Table 3. Summary of data collection in the Puget Sound Basin, 1994-981

Study component

What data were collected and why

Types of sites sampled

Number of sites

Sampling frequency and period

Stream Chemistry

Basic fixed sites-general water quality

Streamflow, dissolved oxygen, pH, alkalinity, specific
conductance, temperature, nutrients, major ions, trace elements, organic carbon, and suspended sediment were measured to determine occurrence and concentration.

Streams draining basins ranging in size from 12 to 790 square miles, reflecting forest and mixed land use, and widely distributed geographically within the Study Unit.

7

Monthly plus storms
Mar. 1996-Apr. 1998

Intensive fixedsites-pesticides and VOCs

Above constituents plus 87 pesticides and 85 volatile organic compounds.

Sites selected for closer proximity to and more direct influence from agricultural and urban land uses plus integration of mixed-use larger basins.

3

 

1

Weekly to monthly
Mar. 1996-May 1997
Weekly to monthly
Mar. 1996-May 1998

Synoptic
sites-pesticides

Streamflow, pH, specific conductance, temperature plus
pesticides during varying flow conditions to relate occurrences and concentrations to retail sales of pesticides.

Sites predominantly influenced by urban residential land use plus 1 reference site.

13

2 to 4 samples
over storm hydrograph
Apr.-May 1998

Contaminants in bed
sediment

Trace elements and organic compounds to determine
occurrence and distribution in streambed sediment.

Depositional zones of all basic and intensive stream-chemistry sites plus additional sites.

19

Once
Sept. 1995

Contaminants in fish tissue

Trace elements and organic compounds in the tissue of whole fish.

Same sites from which bed sediment samples were collected.

18

Once
Sept. 1995

Stream Ecology

Fixed sites

Invertebrate, algae, and fish communities, streamflow, basic water chemistry, and riparian habitat conditions surveyed to assess biological communities in the basin.

Sites collected with basic and intensive stream-chemistry sites and having contributing drainage areas from 12 to 790 square miles.

11

Annually
1995-97

 

Synoptic

Invertebrate, algae, and fish communities, streamflow,
nutrients, and habitat conditions surveyed to determine land-use effects on biological communities.

4 bed sediment and tissue sites and 10 other sites influenced by various land uses, with contributing drainage areas ranging from 3 to 48 square miles.

14

Once
Sept.-Oct. 1996

 

Ground-Water Chemistry

Study Unit-
varied land use

Nutrients, major ions, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and radon in shallow, unconfined glacial
outwash aquifer to assess the drinking-water quality of domestic wells in the Fraser aquifer.

Existing domestic supply wells widely distributed through the Puget Lowlands.

30

Once
1996

Land use-
residential

Above compounds to determine effects of urban land use on ground-water quality in the Fraser aquifer. One-half of the wells were sampled for radon.

Monitoring wells in urban residential areas with both sewer and private septic
systems.

27

 

Once
1996-97

Land use-
agricultural

Above compounds, except radon, to determine effects of agricultural land use on ground-water quality in the Fraser aquifer.

Monitoring wells (18) and existing domestic supply wells (4) in an area of intensive row crops (raspberries, for example).

22

Once
1997-98

Flow path-
agricultural

Above compounds, except radon, to determine changes in water quality occurring as water moves from recharge to discharge areas.

Shallow and deep monitoring wells along flow paths in an agricultural watershed.

16

Varied
1997-98

Special Studies

Synoptic
study-micro-
biology and wastewater
chemicals

Turbidity, pH, specific conductance, temperature, waste-water chemicals, fecal-indicator bacteria, coliphage, and coliphage serotypes to determine occurrence and distribution in the Puget Lowlands and infer sources of fecal contamination.

Sites predominantly influenced by urban and agricultural land use.

31

Once
Aug. 1998

Land use and scale

Invertebrates, instream habitat, and riparian condition data from USGS and Washington State Department of Ecology sites (common protocol) were combined to evaluate land-use impacts at different spatial scales.

Indicator sites with smaller drainage basins and mixed land uses.

20 USGS
25 WDOE

Annually
Aug.-Sept. 1995-97

Drinking-water assessment-
pesticides

Pesticides collected in previous study used to estimate detection probability.

Public-supply wells throughout the Study Unit.

78

Once
1994

1 Most data were collected 1996-98.

 

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U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1216

Suggested citation:

Ebbert, J.C., Embrey, S.S., Black, R.W., Tesoriero, A.J., and Haggland A.L., 2000, Water Quality in the Puget Sound Basin, Washington and British Columbia, 1996–98: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1216, 31 p., on-line at https://pubs.water.usgs.gov/circ1216/

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