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State tests river water monthly

 

Eiko Urmos-Berry, of the state Department of Ecology, pulls up water samples with a long rope dangling from the bridge in Coulee Dam. - Jacob Wagner photo

Eiko Urmos-Berry, of the state Department of Ecology, pulls up water samples with a long rope dangling from the bridge in Coulee Dam. It's a sunny fall day, and her orange high-vis vest matches the changing colors of the leaves.

Urmos-Berry has taken around 10 samples on this day. The bridge is the last stop for her.

The Department of Ecology performs these "ambient" tests to look for trends in water quality over the years.

"Overall water quality at this station met or exceeded expectations and is of lowest concern," according to a 2015 summary at DOE's website, regarding the samples taken at Coulee Dam.

Earlier in the day, Urmos-Berry had been in the Oroville area getting samples of the Similkameen River, then headed south to get samples from the Okanogan River before heading to Coulee Dam, where the temperature of the river water was 60.98 Fahrenheit.

Urmos-Berry would then drive to Wenatchee where she would mail the water samples via Alaska Air to a laboratory in Manchester, Washington.

The Coulee Dam bridge site is considered a "long-term" site, meaning samples are pulled monthly by the Department of Ecology.

The tests look at oxygen levels, temperature, nitrogen levels, phosphorus levels, and more.

"We keep tabs on the overall health of our rivers and streams and test ways we are cleaning them up to see whether those methods are successful as well," said Joy Redfield-Wilder, information officer for the DOE.

"If the waters were to show that they were warming up, (we'd ask) what could we do to keep it cold for fish? If there were certain bacteria in excess amounts - there's a certain limit - then we'd look for the source," Redfield-Wilder explained.

The water quality results for the Coulee Dam bridge site and more can be found at the Department of Ecology website http://www.ecy.wa.gov where water quality results are posted.

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