Residents asked: Is county water getting better or worse?

Only 27 percent of Snohomish County rivers and streams were in good health or better, a new program found.

EVERETT — Of the 5,700 miles of rivers and streams in Snohomish County flowing to Puget Sound, 73% are in fair to poor condition, according to a new study.

Released last week, data from the “State of Our Waters” program showed 27% of river and stream sites and 77% of lakes tested by Snohomish County Public Works are considered in good to excellent health.

Some of the poorest water quality was found in Crystal Creek, McGovern Creek and a marshland stream east of Everett.

“The purpose is to understand the health of our rivers, streams and lakes so that we can identify areas that need improvement and areas that we need to protect,” said Janell Majewski, surface water management resource monitoring supervisor.

The program was spurred by residents asking whether nearby water quality was getting better or worse.

“We didn’t have a program to answer that question,” Majewski said.

“State of Our Waters” is funded by unincorporated Snohomish County residents’ surface water utility fees.

The surface water management team will monitor a consistent group of 20 sites, to have a data set for comparison. They’ll also take samples from another 10 to 30 new sites in four land types — urban, rural, forested and agricultural.

With 2018 data, the county created online report cards for each of the monitored water bodies, detailing their health, the land that impacts them, and the ways nearby residents can help.

The newly released report will serve as a benchmark. After a few more years of collecting, Majewski said her team will be able to identify changes and patterns in the county’s surface water.

The team did not sample near commercial farms due to logistical issues, Majewski said.

Based on 2018 data, water bodies near urban areas and small-scale hobby farms tested as the worst quality. Common problems were high temperatures, fecal bacteria pollution and lack of salmon habitat.

Lakes often show phosphorus pollution from fertilizer caught up in rain runoff in the past. Fertilizer in Washington state no longer contains phosphorus, Majewski said, but it’s still buried in many lake floors.

The surface water management team takes a comprehensive approach to water quality, said Steve Britsch, the project’s co-manager. They collect data on habitat, aquatic life, land-use changes and water flow.

“The reason why we’re looking at it holistically is to look at what’s causing the problem,” Britsch said. “If we can find what’s causing it then we can engage in further projects (to help).”

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A masked passenger sits in front of an empty row of seats on an Alaska Airlines flight from Spokane to Sea-Tac Monday evening. (Julie Muhlstein) 20201026
Flying to see family, it was a risk that seemed like a must

After eight months of not seeing my 98-year-old mom, a trip to my Spokane hometown was short and sweet.

Three people were shot at the Boo Han Oriental Market Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, off of Highway 99 in Edmonds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Charges: Boo Han shooter stalked wife, sent alarming texts

Duy Nguyen is charged with killing his wife’s friend and wounding two others at an Edmonds market.

As seen in body-camera video, an Everett police sergeant places handcuffs on Joseph Michael Hill, 39, while kneeling on his back. Everett's chief says it was reasonable use of force. Hill's attorney disagrees. (Everett Police Department) 20200524
Plea deal reached in case of Black man pinned by Everett cop

Joseph Hill’s arrest led Everett police to amend their policy. All charges except resisting arrest were dropped.

Firefighters were dispatched to a burning home Wednesday night in Monroe. (Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue)
Fire crews fight blaze at Monroe-area house throughout night

No injuries were reported. Access to water was a challenge as firefighters fought the flames.

Lilah 2 TEASER
Langley man builds automatic candy dispenser for Halloween

People are still finding ways to partake in the holiday’s celebrations in a safe manner.

Monroe Police Department
Police search for Monroe bank robbery suspect, hope for tips

A search with a police dog and drone could not track down the suspect Monday afternoon.

Darrington man sentenced in death of 2 horses he starved

He submitted an Alford plea, not admitting guilt but acknowledging a jury would likely convict him.

Bail set at $1 million in homicide outside Tulalip casino

The Spanaway man is accused of assaulting his girlfriend, who had a medical condition.

Jana Smith places her sister Jody Loomis' boot back into an evidence bag while testify on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Trial in Mill Creek murder tests memories of 48 years ago

Jody Loomis’ sister testified this week in the trial of a man accused of killing the 20-year-old in 1972.

Most Read