It's officially autumn and for water managers around the Pacific Northwest, the onset of fall rains brings with it the first wave of seasonal treatment challenges.
Intense storms and damaged watershed habitat are a recipe for water quality disaster for salmon and public water supplies.
Many small and rural communities in Oregon and Washington rely upon rivers and streams for their drinking water, but there is often degraded habitat upstream, which causes water quality issues that water providers must address to deliver clean drinking water. For example, older logging roads in forested lands, particularly those built before the 1980s, were poorly designed and can deliver massive amounts of sediment into streams, especially during storm events.
With climate change we are seeing more frequent and bigger storm events. Plus, snow pack has been decreasing for decades in the West, and we are to expect more rain than snow in the wintertime. As a result, with more of our total precipitation coming in large and irregular events, we anticipate seeing more sediment in our rivers than people or fish are used to.