The City of Tacoma believes prevention is a big part of protecting the environment. For this reason, the City continuously monitors the quality of our waterways to ensure we aren’t polluting our natural resources.
Monitoring our streams and gulches
Streams and gulches are a big part of Tacoma’s natural habitat. To ensure these waterways are being protected, the City of Tacoma created and implemented the Urban Creek Assessment Project in 1999. The project goal was to gauge the health of the streams and to identify areas needing attention.
Throughout the four-month project, City water quality technicians sampled 44 streams within chosen basins—North Tacoma, Western Slopes, Tideflats, Lower Puyallup, Northeast Tacoma and the discharge point to Joe’s Creek. Learn more about Tacoma watersheds. Technicians measured such water quality parameters as dissolved oxygen and temperature to assess the condition of the streams and surrounding bank areas. The general condition of our streams is good.
Future enhancement projects could include: erosion/sediment control, creation and maintenance of permanent sampling stations in areas of imminent development, culvert repositioning, and community education and involvement.
Help keep our water quality good by following these fish-friendly tips.
Monitoring our lakes
As a nature preserve, Snake Lake and its surrounding 54 acres of forest and wetland are inhabited by many types of plants and animals. But the lake also is located within a well-developed urban area.
Because of its developed urban surroundings, the wetland is susceptible to urban runoff and its associated problems:
- Residential lawns often are maintained with fertilizer, which may contain pesticides, herbicides and nutrients. These chemicals, when used indiscriminately—or in many locations at the same time—can contribute to an unhealthy lake.
- Urban lakes also can experience an increased level of harmful fecal coliform, petroleum hydrocarbons and/or suspended solids, stemming from human use or abuse.
Snake Lake is the drain area for 584 acres of land. The majority of the lake’s water comes from two sub-basins, one from the east, one from the west, containing residential, commercial and recreational runoff. Water from the two sub-basins joins to form the inflow at the lake’s north inlet. A second inlet at the south end contributes a considerably smaller amount of runoff from State Route 16.
Our wet winter climate and its subsequent runoff mean the lake’s size varies with the seasons. In winter, the lake typically fills about 17-18 acres. In summer, it drops to four acres.
Check out what you can do today with our fish-friendly tips. Find out how you can get involved in the community.
Visit the Tacoma Nature Center at Snake Lake - The Tacoma Nature Center, run by MetroParks Tacoma, is at the corner of South 19th and Tyler streets in Tacoma. Dedicated in 1979, the Nature Center features hands-on—and boots-on—nature education and appreciation, research and low-impact recreation.
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