Sustainable Thurston Report Card

Goal
Protect and improve water quality, including groundwater, rivers, streams, lakes, and Puget Sound.

Targets

  • Protect small stream basins that are currently ranked as “Intact” or “Sensitive.”
  • Improve and restore as many “Impacted” stream basins as possible.

Outlook
CloudyStormy, concerns for the future.
Of the 43 basins classified as “Intact” or “Sensitive” in 2006, one basin was reclassified as “Impacted” in 2011. None of the 24 basins classified as “Impacted” saw conditions improve over the same time period.

Why is this important?
The streams that flow into the Puget Sound and local rivers form an integral part of their physical, biological, and chemical integrity. When those streams are inadequately protected, the consequences affect the water quality in the Deschutes, Nisqually, and Chehalis rivers, and the Puget Sound. Rivers, streams, and lakes also provide important spawning and rearing habitat for a variety of salmon and other aquatic species.

Key Observations
Two basins ranked as “Intact” in 2006 were reclassified as “Sensitive” in 2011 due to a decrease in basin-wide forest cover as a result of timber harvest activity. It is expected that their rankings will improve as the forest regrows.

Offut Lake Basin (part of the Deschutes River Watershed) was ranked as “Sensitive” in 2006 and reclassified as “Impacted” in 2011, a result of forest harvest activity within the 250-foot riparian corridor along a stream that feeds into the lake. The area is zoned for rural residential development at a density of one unit per five acres.

Moxlie Creek Basin (in Olympia) improved in rating, a result of improved B-IBI scores (Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity, a measure of biologic health).

Overall, local organizations are taking steps to protect and improve the health of local rivers, streams, lakes, and the Puget Sound. It will take a wide range of efforts to accomplish regional goals, including:

  • Public outreach and engagement
  • Completing and implementing recommendations from basin studies, including those for McLane Creek Basin, Woodland Creek Basin, Black Lake Basin, and the Deschutes River Basin
  • Updating stormwater manuals and development codes to encourage low-impact development, including reduction of impervious surfaces and retention of forest cover
  • Funding habitat restoration projects identified by local planning groups
  • Better enforcement of existing regulations