State Studies Water Quality Failures on Burnt Bridge Creek – March 11, 2009


On March 11, 2009, The Washington State Department of Ecology convened the technical advisory committee for the Total Maximum Daily Load study currently underway for Burnt Bridge Creek. This creek begins as a spring in East Vancouver, and flows 13 miles westward into Vancouver Lake. Monitoring stations have been established at various locations along the stream path. The study includes tributaries — Cold Creek, Petersen Channel and Burton Channel. Burnt Bridge Creek suffers from failures of various water quality standards, and the purpose of this study is to determine how to remedy the problems and improve water quality.

Ecology has been monitoring the creek since last summer, and primary data was presented to the technical advisory committee, of which RNA is a member. Stephanie Brock of Ecology said that Burnt Bridge Creek is “of high concern” compared to other waterbodies across the state because it is failing multiple standards. Other members of the technical advisory committee include CH2M Hill, City of Vancouver, Clark County and the Department of Health, and SEH America (an industry that operates adjacent to a channel that feeds into the creek).

The creek is being monitored for fecal coliform bacteria, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH. Bacteria tests have been conducted every two weeks since June 2008. Data indicates that the creek exceeds fecal coliform standards at every monitoring station, and temperature was exceeded at every station except at the confluence of Cold Creek. The National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System permit limits surface water temperatures to 21 degrees centigrade. As Burnt Bridge Creek flows toward Vancouver Lake, the temperature rises to 26 degrees centigrade at the mouth. Increased temperatures can make the stream uninhabitable for fish and other organisms.

Data also indicates high levels of nitrates at the headwaters of the creek, elevated iron that indicates failure of the creek, and a complex series of water level gains and losses throughout the basin.

Ecology will continue to gather data throughout 2009 on a bi-weekly basis, and sampling is planned for 2 storm events to determine if pollutant levels for bacteria increse during the first flush of stormwater. Stakeholders are slated to help develop strategies to remedy elements that contribute to failed water quality standards beginning in 2011, and a list of cleanup actions is scheduled for completion in 2012.

For more information on the study, please visit the Ecology website:

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