In early 2007, the MFWWC began working with the Lane Council of Governments, Department of Environmental Quality and the cities of Oakridge, Westfir and Lowell to develop a plan for addressing water quality issues in the Middle Fork watershed. Water quality standards had been identified to support salmonid populations and 192 miles of streams within the Middle Fork were identified as exceeding the temperature standard.
The current information we have on water quality in our basin provides us with only a small picture of the conditions throughout the watershed. In order to improve and protect our drinking water source and salmonid habitat, we need to know what and where the issues are so that we can work together as a community. The MFWWC and partners identified the need to establish a monitoring program throughout the entire watershed so our restoration activities are well-informed and we can provide our municipalities and citizens with the necessary information to take action. In late 2007, together with partners, the MFWWC submitted a grant proposal to DEQ to request funds to support a monitoring program that would identify non-point source pollution within each subwatershed of the Middle Fork and upstream and downstream of our cities. After receiving funding in 2008, we hired a monitoring technician to work with volunteers and our cities to implement the project.
The project involves monthly sampling at approximately 16 sites throughout the watershed for parameters of turbidity, TSS, E.coli, total phosphorous, dissolved oxygen, nitrate and temperature. We are also monitoring one significant storm event per year and collecting macroinvertebrate samples. The data collected and analyzed will be used to answer questions such as, Do certain land uses within the subwatershed and cities degrade water quality more than others?; Do E.coli and temperature conditions in the monitored urban and rural waterways meet state standards?; Do seasonal trends for each parameter point to likely sources of pollutants?; and Are there detectable amounts of Synthetic and Volatile Organic Chemicals related to storm runoff that would affect drinking water treatment?. Obtaining the answers to some of these questions will allow the Middle Fork Willamette community to determine what needs to be done to address concerns and where we should focus our efforts. We will present the results of this project in November or December of 2010. We thank our project partners DEQ, Junction City, Delta Enviornmental and Analytical labs, Springfield Utility Board, cities of Oakridge, Westfir and Lowell and monitoring volunteers!!