The Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board (LCFRB) has been leading a collaborative project to develop a preliminary Habitat Status and Trends Monitoring (HSTM) design for Southwest Washington. This area includes a portion of the Lower Columbia ESU (Evolutionarily Significant Unit) salmon and steelhead populations, and it also covers the jurisdictions of eight National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) municipal stormwater permittees.
The project is intended to inform future municipal stormwater permits for these jurisdictions and support watershed health and salmon recovery in Southwest Washington by producing a monitoring design that addresses multi-scale questions about status and trends of physical, chemical and biological attributes. By integrating status and trends monitoring related to municipal stormwater permits with other existing monitoring efforts in the WA Lower Columbia ESU, the intent is to gain fiscal efficiencies and more robust and meaningful regional assessments.
An initial monitoring plan was conceived during Phase 1 of the project (2012-2013). Stillwater Sciences was contracted in Phase 2 to revise the plan, provide necessary depth and breadth to create a completed monitoring design, and to engage the project stakeholders. The resulting product was a monitoring design for the Lower Columbia Region with the following elements:
clear monitoring questions,
explicit monitoring objectives,
a framework for site stratification and site selection,
a hierarchical list of water-quality, habitat, and biological metrics,
signal-to-noise analysis of all proposed metrics, and
guidance for integrating any potential financial limitations into the final selection of sites and metrics as part of the next step (implementation).
Based on the success of Phase 2, Stillwater was asked to develop the subsequent Implementation and Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPP) for Phase 3 . Together the Implementation and QAPP address the project objectives by establishing a set of metrics to be measured with sufficient precision and statistical rigor to adequately characterize “status,” and over a sufficient period of time to discern any “trends.” The Implementation Plan represents the final step of this HSTM program and contains the pragmatic details necessary for the actual initiation of monitoring—site selection, measurement protocols, quality control procedures, a monitoring schedule and associated budgets, data analyses, data management, and reporting—all of which are essential for successful on-the-ground execution. Detailed plans specifying the procedures, timing, and locations for executing the monitoring have been developed in tandem with the Implementation report and are documented in the QAPP.
The project has been highly successful to date, given the broad spatial extent and wide range of conditions across in the Region, limited funding, and diverse stakeholder group with a variety of regulatory drivers. Project partners include: Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), 8 Washington municipalities, Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Cowlitz Tribe, Pacific Northwest Aquatic Monitoring Partnership (PNAMP) and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership (LCEP).