Ecology awarded Grant G1400520 to the Eastern Klickitat Conservation District (EKCD) to conduct temperature monitoring for the watersheds within WRIA 31. These watersheds include Alder Creek, Chapman Creek, Pine Creek, Rock Creek, Sixprong Creek and Wood Gulch.
The study area is located within eastern Klickitat County and Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 31, in the south-central region of Washington State. It includes six adjacent basins: Rock Creek and its main tributaries (Luna Gulch, Squaw Creek and Quartz Creek), as well as Alder Creek, Chapman Creek, Pine Creek, Sixprong Creek and Wood Gulch. The study area streams are tributaries to the Columbia River, which is on the 303(d) list for several factors, including temperature and sedimentation. They are all characterized as intermittent (lacking dry season flow) except in localized spring-fed reaches.
The most recent 303(d) list was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 2012 and Rock Creek is the only stream in this study that has a section listed as category 5. This section ID identification is 7967 and is listed for temperature. The location of this section is in the upper Rock Creek watershed. The other streams in the WRIA are not listed on the 303(d) list but some have threatened species in a portion of the stream. Streams that have been identified as spawning streams for salmon and steelhead and have been given new temperature requirements of 55° F from Feb 15 to June 1 by EPA. However, it is pointed out in the Rock Creek Water Quality Report for WRIA 31 (Aspect Consulting, 2005) that high temperatures in Rock Creek “may be natural for a small creek in a hot, sunny summer climate”, but that more monitoring and assessment is required to set a baseline standard for the creek.
Beneficial uses for the waters in the watersheds of Alder Creek, Chapman Creek, Pine Creek, Rock Creek, Sixprong Creek, Wood Gulch, and its tributaries that may be impaired by temperature exceedances include:
- Recreation: Fishing
- Fish and shellfish habitat
- Water supply and livestock watering
- Wildlife Habitat
Eastern Klickiat Conservation District has had a stream monitoring program since 1995 to obtain a baseline for temperature data . Currently, the water monitoring technician downloads data from 39 seasonal sites total in both Central and Eastern Districts. Each site is monitored for flow, dissolved oxygen, temperature, turbidity, pH and specific conductivity.