TRPC periodically performs a current conditions assessment for Thurston County’s 70 river, stream, and lake basins. Each basin’s level of urbanization, canopy cover and riparian vegetation, overall water quality, and aquatic life are used to determine the basin’s condition. In 2011, 93% of basins were classified as either sensitive or impacted. Between 2006 and 2011, the number of intact basins decreased from four to two while the number of very degraded basins decreased from one to zero.
Through a system of monitoring sites, Thurston County tracks seven measures of water quality: presence of fecal coliform bacteria, dissolved oxygen, water pH, total phosphorus, temperature, presence of nitrites and nitrates, and turbidity. Using a Water Quality Index (WQI), these measures are used to indicate the level of concern for water quality impairment. The higher the WQI, the better the water quality.
For the 2018-2019 water year, four out of 30 monitoring sites were deemed to be of high concern for impairment based on the overall WQI score.
Thurston County began monitoring lake water quality in 1988. Sampling sites for lakes are typically located in the deepest part of the lake, and lakes sampled may change from year to year based on a number of factors. Monitoring on Capitol Lake (owned by the State of Washington) ended in 2011.
Of the ten lakes Thurston County monitored for the 2018-2019 water year, Summit Lake had the best water quality.
TRPC, Puget Sound Partnership, Department of Ecology, Thurston County