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Criterion 4 Indicator 24
Water Bodies in Forest Areas With Significant Variation in Acidity or Alkalinity (Ph), Dissolved Oxygen (Do), Sedimentation, or Temperature
Oregonians depend on abundant high quality water for drinking, fisheries, industry, recreation, and agriculture. Much of our water originates as rain or snow falling in the forests of Oregon. If water quality is degraded in Oregon’s forests, this data would be an important indicator that forest-related activities might be adversely affecting ecosystem health.

Can This Indicator Be Quantified
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has the responsibility to protect water quality by establishing specific quantifiable standards. DEQ’s standards include parameters for bacteria, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, total dissolved gas, certain toxic and carcinogenic compounds, habitat and flow modification, and aquatic weeds or algae that affect aquatic life.
In Oregon, DEQ is required by the federal Clean Water Act to maintain a list of steam segments that do not meet water quality standards. This list is called the "303(d) List" in reference to the section of the Clean Water Act that creates the monitoring requirement. The federal Clean Water Act requires states to undertake specific activities to protect the quality of their rivers, streams, lakes and estuaries. Each state has the responsibility for developing standards that protect water quality, and the state must monitor water quality and review available data to determine if the standards are being met.
Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act requires each state to develop a list of water bodies that do not meet standards, and to submit an updated list to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) every two years. EPA has approved Oregon’s 1998 list. The list provides a way for Oregonians to identify problems and develop and implement watershed recovery plans. The list is only a means of identifying water quality problems; it does not identify the causes. Causes of water quality problems are determined when recovery plans are developed.
In Oregon, DEQ compiles the list using existing scientific data and best professional judgment to assess water quality and determine which water bodies have problems. DEQ develops a draft list and presents it for public comment. After comments are reviewed and taken into consideration, a final list is developed and sent to EPA for approval. The final list is accompanied by a list of priorities that target resources for correcting water quality problems.
There are about 5,600 miles of forest streams on the 303(d) list. The biggest water quality problem on forest lands is temperature, accounting for over 5,000 stream miles. Sediment and flow alterations are the next most important problems on forest lands. The mileage of streams with different problems can be seen in Table 24-1 on the next page. The location of the listed streams can be seen in Maps 24-1 through 24-5.
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It is hard to assess the magnitude of the water quality problems on forest land, because it is difficult to estimate the total stream mileage in Oregon’s forests. The only complete GIS database of streams is mapped at 1:100,000 scale. This database lists about 49,000 miles of streams on forest land; however, the small scale limits the amount of information available. For example, in the Yaquina River Basin, the 1:24,000 scale U.S. Geological Survey’s maps have 280 percent more streams than the 1:100,000 scale stream maps. The difference is not this great in all areas of the state, but the comparison shows that the 1:100,000 scale database underestimates stream mileage.
DEQ focuses its monitoring resources on "rivers of special interest." Their list of "rivers of special interest," compiled in 1981, identifies major rivers and streams based on factors such as size (flow or drainage area), use, presence of major point and nonpoint sources of pollution, natural features, and program or regional concern. The special interest list contains over 260 river segments with a total of nearly 7,000 river miles. Approximately 3,500 miles of the state’s total river miles are routinely monitored as part of DEQ’s ambient river monitoring program, which provides background water quality data. The monitored rivers receive approximately 90 percent of the point source loading for the state.
Table 24-1. Approximate miles of streams in the U.S. EPA 303(d) list (1996 listing in four land use categories).
Approximate Miles of Streams in the USEPA 303(d) List
(1996 listing in four land use categories)
ALL STREAMS5,605.00334.682,054.033,258.73
Biological Criteria147.2873.277.1698
Chlorophyll a7.1348.07251.43104.64
Dissolved Oxygen174.8193.1479.13303.47
E Coli20.7739.32107.754.13
Fecal Coliform299.02202.551,085.58556.68
Flow Alteration523.0832.39536.72419.75
Total dissolved gas14.18000
Note: Because a stream may be impaired in more than one criterion, its mileage will be accounted for multiple times, hence the columns add up to much more than the miles for "All Streams" listed at the top of the chart above.
Note: The above list was calculated using a geographical information system (GIS). The system was able to overlay a digital map of land cover, provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, with a digital map of 303(d) listed streams which was obtained from the State Service Center for GIS.

As of 1998 there were 1,067 streams and rivers, and 32 lakes, on the 303(d) list. In 1996 there were 11,899 miles of rivers and streams, and in 1998 that number increased to 13,892 miles. This does not mean that water quality in Oregon is getting worse. The increase on the 1998 list reflects new data that was not available in 1996. The 303(d) list has information that provides all Oregonians with a better understanding of the water quality problems that must be addressed.
Those watersheds that have water quality management plans approved by EPA will have their streams or stream segments removed from the 303(d) list. However, DEQ will continue to evaluate streams and rivers taken off the list, in order to ensure that management plans are being implemented and water quality standards are achieved.

Data Source and Availability
All data is available from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The DEQ has an outstanding web page where much of this information can be accessed. See: http://egov.oregon.gov/DEQ/WQ/.
DEQ's 303(d) list is a list of streams that do not meet water quality standards as set forth by the federal Clean Water Act. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administers the Clean Water Act through the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Monitoring is done yearly. New streams can be added to the list upon recommendation from citizen advisory committees, watershed councils, or other expert sources.

Reliability of Data
Data is reliable. The area of forest and other land uses (Table 24-1) was calculated using the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s land cover map. This map was derived from 23 Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite scenes collected from 1991-93 imagery that covers the entire state. The imagery was classified and aggregated to 100-hectare minimum size mapping units.


Recommended Action for Data Collection
The current system of stream selection and monitoring appears to be adequate for identifying streams with significant water quality impairment and addressing the causes of the impairments.
In an effort to find cooperative solutions to water quality problems, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber assembled a diverse group of Oregonians and formed the Healthy Streams Partnership. This program was subsequently approved and funded by the 1997 Oregon Legislature. The partnership brings together public and private interests and resources to improve the health and function of Oregon’s aquatic systems and enhance beneficial uses of water for future generations. The Healthy Streams Partnership includes representatives from the agricultural community, forestry, environmental groups, local government, state agencies, and the Governor’s office.
The Healthy Streams Partnership uses existing regulations under the departments of Agriculture, Forestry, and Environmental Quality to address water bodies that currently do not meet water quality standards. The partnership provides support to state agencies and, at the same time, ensures that landowners and other individuals will have extensive opportunity for input into decisions.
The driving force behind the Healthy Streams Partnership is a desire to restore water quality in Oregon’s rivers, streams, lakes, and estuaries so they can support salmon and other beneficial uses. Restoring Oregon’s waters will meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, settle related lawsuits, and help ensure success of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Healthy Watersheds, which is a plan to restore salmon and steelhead runs.

DEQ temperature standard — DEQ protects water quality by establishing standards to protect beneficial uses. The temperature standard is designed to protect cold water fish such as salmon and trout. The standard sets a criterion at 64 degrees unless there is cold-water fish spawning or bull trout habitat. These special habitat areas have standards of 55 degrees and 50 degrees respectively. In the lower Columbia and Willamette rivers it is set at 68 degrees. The stream temperature is considered to be above standard if the average of the maximum daily water temperatures for the stream’s warmest, consecutive seven-day period during the year is above standard. A one-time measurement above the standard is not considered a violation of the standard.

Selected References