New tool communicates watershed health to public

Effective communication of results from an integrated watershed monitoring program can keep stakeholders involved and engaged. However, summarizing large amounts of data and information into simple and understandable terms can be difficult. LimnoTech developed a Watershed Health Index for Clean Water Services (CWS) to communicate the state of local waters and provide a broad overview of environmental performance in the Tualatin River watershed in Oregon.

Our approach employed existing environmental indices wherever feasible, modified to reflect site-specific conditions in the Tualatin River. The development process balanced an accelerated schedule against the importance of widespread scientific input, incorporating input from CWS, Oregon DEQ, and USGS to identify and calculate the index components while providing future opportunities for public comment.

Watershed Health Index Illustration. The watershed scoring system combines water quality, biological, physical, and watershed/riparian metrics into a single Watershed Health Index. The map shows the calculated index for 30 sites in the Tualatin River watershed. These types of analyses and maps are being used by CWS to better understand response gradients throughout the watershed and to communicate watershed health to the general public.


Disclaimer: “The Watershed Health Index scores in this map are calculated from limited monitoring data collected in 2000-2001, and therefore should be understood to be illustrative and not to conditions within the Tualatin River Watershed.” Clean Water Services has recently implemented a rigorous watershed monitoring program, and the Index is designed to be formally applied to those data as they become available.

Click on highlighted WHI markers to learn more about the components of the WHI

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