(Mark Phillips) Air temperature was a nippy 32 degrees for our Jan. 19th water testing.
Water temps were mainly 40 - 41, with one small tributary at 43 degrees. A lot
of 12's (mg/l) were recorded for dissolved oxygen, with one 9 and one 14. The
streams were running clear, and relatively low, with no rain for the preceding
Before setting out we discussed the Lyon Creek by-pass which is scheduled
to be built this year, and agreed to lobby city hall regarding the need for
a thorough EIS. Also discussed the Patch article about our 2012 Streams Report,
and felt that the headline gave too rosy a picture of stream conditions. Since
then the Shoreline Area News also published the report.
With several stalwarts out for one reason or another we were a little
short-handed, but managed with just three teams and some creative reallocation
of test sites. Thanks to Jim, Tyson and Dave for taking extra sites, and Ed for
handling one box by himself!
Jed Marshal has spent some time trying to visualize the trend of what is represented by our data. I helped with formalizing the graphic. Results can be seen at: Compiled BIBI Data
Here are the results from the BIBI sampling we did
in Sept. In summary:
Lyon Cr. near 178th - 28 (Fair)
Lyon Cr. along 35th - 22 (Poor)
McAleer Cr. at Animal Acres - 24
McAleer Cr. along Perkins - 24 (Poor)
A little disappointing in that one of the McAleer Cr. locations often scores in the Fair range; but encouraging in that the 28 on Lyon Cr. is the first time any Lyon Cr. sample has scored in the Fair range. Interesting to note that the residents immediately upstream from the sample location undertook a major project two years ago to stabilize the stream bank and reduce erosion. Since sedimentation is a major culprit in low BIBI scores, there could certainly be a connection.
This website is now hosted on a Google apps site. All of the content from old web site has been migrated.
(Mark Phillips) July 21 Water Testing Report 10 people showed up ready to hit the streams, more than enough for 4 teams. The group included two first-timers, LFP resident Jed Marshall, and Mountlake Terrace resident, Jim Walsh, who is interested in forming a stream group among the residents of his condominium association located on the main branch of Lyon Cr.
The results seemed in the range we like to see, although one site on McAleer had a temperature of 66 degrees, which stood out among the other results, all in the low 60's. The site is the first test location inside LFP, and is not far after the stream leaves Lake Ballinger. Maybe more downstream riffles tend to cool the water as it flows south.
The most interesting observation of the day was of several large koi in McAleer, along Perkins Way: three dead and one very much alive. On Monday several reports came my way of additional live koi sightings, possibly as many as eight in all. After consulting with City staffer, Aaron Halverson, we decided it would be prudent to remove the fish and try to find loving homes for them. We observed two on Tuesday, but when some Public Works guys went out Wednesday morning with nets and containers, the koi were gone.
But there's more: on Friday Aaron and I heard from Kim Josund of the LFP Stewardship Foundation, that her neighbor's teenage son and friends had removed three large koi from the stream earlier in the week, and found someone with a pond to take them. That still leaves a few renegade fish in the stream, and the people who originally reported them are keeping an eye out.
I talked with a UW fish biologist about koi in the stream. There are apparently lots of them (and other non-native fish) in Lake Washington. It's not clear how hazardous koi could be to the stream environment. His take was that we shouldn't be too concerned, although removing them when they are found is the prudent course. I'm not aware of any previous reports of koi in our streams. The consensus is they were probably dumped in the creek as a convenient way to dispose of them, or as a prank.
The July 21, 2012 Basic Quality data can be seen at:Quality Data 2012
Saturday was a good day, despite the absence of several regulars.
In perusing the numbers, we found that the water temperature ranged from 40 - 42 F (air temp was high 30's), pH was steady (as always) at about 7.5, and dissolved oxygen ranged widely from 10 - 15. There was one exception: the Lyon Cr. location at 185th and Ballinger Way was tested twice at 6, which is noticeably low. At between 3 and 4, fish start to drown. So I went back and tested the site again with results of 11 and 13. DO can vary significantly in a 24 hr. period; or, there could have been an issue with one of the three chemical packets used; or more likely, there's the human factor which we've all experienced - not completely emptying a packet, etc.
Here's a recap of the topics we discussed before heading out...
Libby Veluzzi joined us to learn our testing methods and tell us about the study of Lake Ballinger she is doing with 6th graders at Terrace Park School in Mountlake Terrace. She and I dodged golf balls at the Nile Country Club long enough to do a DO test on the stream just after it exits Lake Ballinger. Our score was 11, not bad. In the past, using a meter at that site, we've seen scores between 9 and 10, confirming consistantly low levels of DO in the lake.
Info on the new draft NPDES Permit (the feds and state's new clean water requirements, which will apply to most municipalities in WA) can be found at:
The comment period ended on February 4, and the permit will go into effect in 2013. The general consensus among local environmentalists, is that the permit changes are inching in the right direction.
A bill (HB 2241) put before the state legislature to ban the sale of small lead sinkers commonly used for fishing in streams and lakes has been withdrawn due to low support from the environmental community and strong opposition from sportsmen/NRA groups. The problems caused by lead sinkers are mainly seen in deaths of waterfowl, although lead concentrations in stream and lake sediments can't be good for other aquatic creatures. Sinkers made of other material are available, and lead was banned from shotgun shells several years ago. Lead sinkers, however, are not one of the key stream-quality issues. Two the bills sponsors are Gerry Pollet and Phyllis Kenney.
Special thanks to Ben and his mother, Lisa, for joining us. Ben is one of several dozen high school students in the Puget Sound area working with the Friends of the Cedar River Watershed to produce and present amazing public education about the status of the watershed ‑ which includes our streams. LFP Streamkeeper Tyson Greer is a FCRW board member and provided this YouTube link to some of the videos the group has produced:
The January 28, 2012 Basic Quality data can be seen at:Quality Data 2012
Eleven LFP StreamKeepers turned out Saturday morning, Sept. 17, to collect aquatic insects and other macroinvertebrates on McAleer Creek about 100 yards upstream from Perkins Way. The skies were threatening, but the temperature was balmy, and it turned out to be an excellent morning on the stream. The group included three Shorecrest students, and was joined by Jo Wilhelm of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.
Aquatic macroinvertebrates include several types of flies, beetles, worms and crustaceans that live all or part of their lifecycles in streambeds. Since some of these organisms are tolerant of polluted conditions, and others are very intolerant, understanding the types of macroinvertebrates that live in a stream is an important indicator of the overall health of the stream. This method of analysis is called the benthic index of biologic integrity, or BIBI for short.
The purpose of the collection was to help evaluate two different sample collection protocols. Most groups doing BIBI base their analyses on the average of three samples per site. Others feel that eight samples collected over a larger section of streambed gives a more accurate analysis. King County is leading a study, with partners Pierce and Snohomish Counties, to see if the results from the two methods are significantly different. So in our work on Saturday we collected a total of eight samples. Three will be analyzed separately, and then all eight will be analyzed together to see how the two methods compare. Similar side-by-side sampling is being conducted at many locations throughout Western Washington to get a large enough database to draw meaningful conclusions.
Thanks to the residents who allowed us to work on their properties, and thanks to all who gave up their Saturday morning to help improve this important stream monitoring tool.
- Largest of two stream systems in Lake Forest Park – other stream is Lyon Creek.
- Originates at Lake Ballinger, outflows into Lake Washington, a distance of almost 6 miles.
- Tributaries include Hillside Cr., Sheridan Cr., Brookside Cr., and Whisper Cr.
- Increasingly prone to flooding - $4 million property damage in lower reaches in 2007. Stretches of the stream are scoured out, and other stretches heavily silted resulting from high volumes of water during major storm events.
- Relatively free of barriers to fish passage although some sections are heavily armored.
- Small annual salmon runs: Coho, Chinook, Sockeye
- Supports a wide variety of other animal life, including racoons, beavers, mountain beavers, coyotes, amphibians, herons and other birds, cutthroat trout, peamouth chub, crayfish and other crustaceans, insects, mollusks, and worms
- Dissolved oxygen levels generally very good: 9 – 14 mg/liter.
- pH consistently very good – 7.5 (At 4, fish reproduction is affected; at 3 fish die.)
- BIBI (Benthic Inventory of Biological Integrity) 2010 ratings 30 and 32, or “Fair.” (The highest score possible is 50, which would be a stream in a natural, undisturbed area. The lowest score possible is 10 – Thornton Cr. several years ago.)
- Some locations have elevated levels of fecal coliform, probably due to failing septic systems along two tributaries.
- Possible pre-spawn mortality (female Coho salmon die with in hours of entering stream – very common around Puget Sound area).
- Future testing plans: heavy metals, nutrients, pesticides
- Lake Ballinger/McAleer Creek Forum – six governmental entities working to address flooding and water quality problems in the Lake Ballinger/McAleer Cr. watershed.
- Long-term, focused efforts to remove invasive plants and restore native riparian vegetation.
- Salmon raise and release projects: two elementary schools and two private property owners
- Wetland and riparian native planting efforts.
Lake Forest Park StreamKeepers, April 2011