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Water Quality

The upper Umatilla subbasin has historically been valued as a source area for abundant clean, cold water and habitat for resident and migratory fish. For the last 25 years however, increased demands on the watershed have caused some streams to be state-listed as "water quality limited" (WQL) (Table 3; Figure 15 and Figure 16). In addition, the Umatilla Tribes have requested to be treated as a state (pursuant to the water quality act of 1987) and have coordinated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop water quality standards pertaining specifically to Reservation lands (Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation 1999).

Table 3. 1998 §303(d) listed stream segments in the Umatilla subbasin (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality 2000)




Variable

Stream

Segment (boundaries)

Criterion

Temperature

Birch Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Rearing 64F




Buckaroo Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Rearing 64F



E. Birch Cr.

Mouth to Pearson Cr.

Rearing 64F




EF Meacham Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Rearing 64F




McKay Cr.

Mouth to McKay Reservoir

Rearing 64F




Meacham Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Rearing 64F




NF McKay Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Rearing 64F




NF Meacham Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Oregon Bull Trout




NF Umatilla R.

Mouth to headwaters

Oregon Bull Trout




Shimmiehorn Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Oregon Bull Trout





SF Umatilla R.

Mouth to headwaters

Oregon Bull Trout




Squaw Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Rearing 64F




Umatilla R.

Mouth to Lick Cr.

Rearing 64F




W. Birch Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Rearing 64F




Westgate Canyon

Mouth to headwaters

Rearing 64F




Wildhorse Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

Rearing 64F




Willow Cr.

Mouth to Willow Cr. Lake




Sediment

Beaver Cr.

Mouth to headwaters





Birch Cr., WF


Mouth to headwaters







Boston Canyon Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







Coonskin Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







Cottonwood Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







Line Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







Little Beaver Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







Lost Pin Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







McKay Cr., NF

Mouth to headwaters







Meacham Cr.

East Meacham Cr. to headwaters







Mill Cr.

Mouth to headwaters








Mission Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







Moonshine Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







Rail Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







Sheep Cr.

Mouth to headwaters







Twomile Cr.

Wildhorse Creek to Forks




Turbidity

Umatilla River

Mouth to Mission Creek

>30 NTU

pH

Umatilla River

Highway 11 bridge site (RM 57.1)







Umatilla River

Yoakum bridge site (RM 37.2



(summer)


Willow Cr.

Mouth to Willow Cr. Lake




Nitrate

Wildhorse Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

>10mg/L




Spring Hollow Cr.

Mouth to headwaters

>10mg/L

Ammonia

Lower Umatilla R.

Mouth to RM 5







North Hermiston Dam

Mouth to headwaters




Bacteria

McKay Cr. – Summer

Mouth to McKay Reservoir







McKay Cr. – Fall/winter/Spring

Mouth to McKay Reservoir







Umatilla R. - Summer

Mouth to Speare Canyon







Balm Fork Willow

Willow Cr. Lake to headwaters






Figure 15. Stream segments in the Umatilla subbasin listed on the Oregon State 303(d) list


Figure 16. Stream segments in the Umatilla subbasin listed on the Oregon State 303(d) list (continued)
Oregon Water Quality Standards for the Umatilla River Basin


Temperature: The basic absolute criterion is  64F (17.8C). Two exceptions exist: when salmonid spawning, egg incubation, and fry emergence for native fish occur, standards for the specific times of use are  55F (12.8C); and when the waters support bull trout the standards are  50F (10.0C) (Boyd et al. 1999).

Dissolved Oxygen (DO): For water bodies providing salmonid spawning during periods from spawning until fry emergence from the gravels, the following criteria apply: DO shall not be less than 11.0 mg/l, but if the minimum intergravel DO measured as a spatial median is 8.0 mg/l or greater, then the DO criterion is 9.0 mg/l. Where conditions of barometric pressure, altitude, and temperature preclude attainment of the 11.0 mg/l or 9.0 mg/l criteria, DO levels shall not be less than 95% of saturation. For water bodies identified by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) as providing cold-water aquatic life, the DO shall not be less than 8.0 mg/l as an absolute minimum. The DO level for cool-water aquatic life shall not be less than 6.5 mg/l. The minimum DO level for warm-water aquatic life is 5.5 mg/l.


Turbidity (Nephelometric Turbidity Units, NTU): No more than a 10% cumulative increase in natural stream turbidities are allowed, as measured relative to a control point immediately upstream of the turbidity causing activity. In special situations (construction, emergencies) the NTU limit can be exceeded provided turbidity control techniques have been implemented and affected agencies have given authorization. A specific turbidity target of 30 NTU was developed for the Umatilla basin TMDL (ODEQ 2000).

pH (hydrogen ion concentration): pH shall not fall outside the range of 6.5 to 9.0. The ODEQ will determine if any pH values higher than 8.7 are anthropogenic or natural in origin. Where it is proven that any waters impounded by dams existing on January 1, 1996 would not have a pH exceedance if the impoundment was removed, exceptions will be made.

Bacteria standard: A 30-day log mean of 126 E. coli organisms per 100 ml based on a minimum of five samples; or no single sample shall exceed 406 E. coli organisms per 100 ml.




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