Humboldt Bay Water Quality Improvement Program (HBWQIP)

Click here for links regarding Humboldt Bay, Non-Point Source Pollution, Stormwater, etc

Location: Humboldt Bay Watershed
Humboldt County, CA
Cooperating Agencies: City of Arcata, City of Eureka, Salmon Forever, the Humboldt Bay Waterhsed Advisory Committee, the Institute for Riverine Ecosystems
Funding Sources: State Water Resources Control Board

The goal of the Humboldt Bay Water Quality Improvement Program (HBWQIP) is to protect and improve the water quality and environment of the Humboldt Bay and its tributaries through: (1) coordinated monitoring of non-point source pollution; and (2) conducting public education, outreach, and participation program to reduce pollution from urban runoff and septic systems.

The Humboldt Bay watershed's water quality is impacted by unnaturally high levels of sediment, primarily from accelerated erosion related to timber harvesting and road construction operations. In addition, bacterial contamination from confined animal facilities, manure application, sub-standard septic systems, and polluted urban runoff are impacting coastal resources. For over 2 decades, local restoration groups and public trust agencies have been working to protect and improve the water quality and fisheries habitat of Humboldt Bay and its tributary streams – Jacoby Creek, Freshwater Creek, Elk River, Salmon Creek, and the creeks of Arcata and Eureka. However, non-point source (NPS) pollution is difficult to control, and the results of over 25 years of effort such as road decommissioning, hatcheries, in-stream and riparian restoration, and timber harvest review have not been evaluated. Efforts to reduce sediment pollution in the watershed have increased significantly in the past 5 years, yet the question remains, “Are we making progress?” The only way to know if the combined efforts of agencies, watershed groups, landowners, and restoration professionals are having an effect is through consistent, coordinated, and accurate monitoring of ambient water quality.

As part of the HBWQIP, NRS will be working with a number of entities in the Humboldt Bay watershed including experts from Humboldt State University, Redwood Sciences Lab, and Pacific Lumber Company to develop a Coordinated Monitoring and Research Program (CMRP). The CMRP will describe the current status of physical and biological monitoring in Humboldt Bay watershed; map locations of current monitoring stations; identify gaps in monitoring that exist; determine mechanisms for coordination between monitoring entities; identify ways to improve data compatibility and data sharing; and describe a strategy for long term water quality monitoring in the watershed. The CMRP will prioritize monitoring sites for suspended sediment, turbidity, stream flow, and other priority parameters. The HBQWIP will also make use of
Local elementary school students volunteer to monitor a creek in the Humboldt Bay watershed
volunteer monitors who will be trained to ensure proficiency in testing for various water quality parameters in accordance with standard operating procedures. These volunteers will participate in routine data collection as well as monitoring during storm events to ensure sufficient numbers of samples are collected.

In addition to the scientific water quality monitoring that makes up much of the HBWQIP, NRS will be conducting outreach and education to engage and inform the public about local water quality issues. Activities have included: First Flush water quality monitoring, restoration work days, and stream cleanup days. The First Flush water quality monitoring event was the first of these activities.

Click here to find out more about First Flush.

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Last updated: April 25, 2005