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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pendleton, Oregon » Soil and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #95910

Title: STREAM MORPHOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE UMATILLA RIVER

Author
item Williams, John
item Clifton, Caty
item Rickman, Ronald

Submitted to: Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Annual Report
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Congress enacted the Federal Clean Water Act in 1972 and charged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the responsibility for protecting and cleaning the Nation¿s surface water resources. Suits brought by environmental groups in the 1980¿s compelled EPA to begin enforcing the Act in Oregon. One of the suits asked that the EPA establish ha schedule for development of total maximum daily loads (TMDL) to meet 303 standards. TMDL is the total measured amount of a pollutant or its measure that a stream is allowed to have in a day (24 hr). To set these limits time, material, and human resources have been pooled by government, research, management, and regulatory agencies. The goal of maintaining or improving water quality can only be accomplished by knowing what our natural resources are and in being able to recognizing changes resulting from changes in land management. We can accomplish this goal by quantifying gwatershed attributes that influence water quality, monitor the attributes for change as land management changes, and relate changes to changes in water quality. Stream morphology (the way it looks) is one such attribute and can be described in a systematic and repeatable manner. We described portions of the Umatilla River and report those descriptions in this article. The descriptions evaluate the potential for the river to reoccupy its flood zone. Ultimately, landowners and society will decide whether landuse changes necessary for flood zone reoccupation are desirable.

Technical Abstract: Congress enacted the Federal Clean Water Act in 1972 and charged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the responsibility for protecting and cleaning the Nation¿s surface water resources. Suits brought by environmental groups in the 1980¿s compelled EPA to begin enforcing the Act in Oregon. One of the suits asked that the EPA establish ha schedule for development of total maximum daily loads (TMDL) to meet Oregon 303d water quality standards. TMDL is the total measured amount of a pollutant or its measure that a stream is allowed to have in a day (24 hr). To set these limits, time, material, human resources have been pooled by the following government, research, management, and regulatory entities: The Umatilla River Watershed Council, EPA, USDA-ARS, USDA-FS, USDA-NRCS, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Oregon Department of Water Resources, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Umatilla County, and The City of Pendleton. The goal of maintaining or improving water quality can only be accomplished by understanding what we have and being able to recognizing changes resulting from our efforts. We can accomplish this goal by quantifying watershed attributes that influence water quality. Stream morphology is one such attribute and can be described in a systematic manner. We described portions of the principal headwater tributaries and main stem of the Umatilla River and report those descriptions in this article. The descriptions are in the context of potential for reoccupation of flood zones. Ultimately, landowners and society will decide whether landuse changes necessary for flood zone reoccupation are desirable.