SHELTON (October 20, 2004) – When creeks across Mason County flooded last winter, there was little information available to the public about how bad the floods really were. The Squaxin Island Tribe recently installed a new stream gauge on Goldsborough Creek that provides real-time data is helping the tribe and others better understand and react to changes on Goldsborough and other creeks.
“Seeing how much water is flowing through a stream minute by minute answers many of the questions we deal with,” said John Konovsky, water quality manager for the Squaxin Tribe. “Floods can be damaging to salmon by destroying their habitat.” Goldsborough Creek, which runs through downtown Shelton, the largest city in the county, was recently the site of a dam removal project, opening up 25 miles of salmon habitat.
Tribal staff rushed to assess the affects of last winter’s floods that hit Goldsborough Creek and other surrounding streams especially hard. “We wanted to see how the creeks reacted to the flooding,” said Konovsky. “If there had been a real-time gauge available then, we would have been able to see the floods coming and reacted quicker.”
While the tribe operates a series of streams gauges across the region, none of them has data available in real-time. “Even though we could walk outside and see the creeks flooding, we really didn’t know how bad it was until we got the data back from our other gauges,” said Konovsky.
“Having this information available on the internet lets anyone have access to the data,” said Konovsky. “Property owners along the creek, or anyone interested in the conditions on the creek, are able to see for themselves.”
Previously, there had been no real-time stream gauge data available in the area known as WRIA 14, the collection of small watersheds south of the Skokomish River and north of Olympia. “You can’t depend on data from other systems that just happen to be nearby to tell you what is going on here,” said Konovsky.
In addition to stream gauge data, the tribe collects various types of water quality samples on a number of creeks in the area. The tribe also operates several juvenile salmon smolt traps and conducts adult salmon spawning surveys to track salmon populations. “This will be a terrific new tool in the tribe’s ongoing monitoring efforts,” said Konovsky.
Stream gauge data from Goldsborough Creek is available here.
For more information, contact: John Konovsky, water quality manager, Squaxin Island Tribe, (360) 432-3804. Emmett O’Connell, South Sound information officer, NWIFC, (360) 438-1181, ext. 392.