How Are We Improving Floodplain Health in the Puyallup Watershed?

We are tracking outcomes and benefits in the floodplain

FFTF partners want to see improvements in floodplain health as it relates to agricultural viability, increases in fish and fish habitats, and reduced flood risk to people and property. While improvements from specific capital projects, such as levee setbacks, will be monitored at the project level, the following metrics aim to track trends at a different scale using both qualitative and quantitative means.

  • Overall trend in floodplain health
  • Amount of farm revenue (dollars)
  • Number of farm businesses
  • Changes in water temperature
  • Changes in farm drainage
  • Cost of flood damages (dollars)
  • Acres of restored riparian habitat
  • Acres of restored estuary habitat
  • Status of salmonid abundance

Overall floodplain status

What is the current status and condition of floodplain?

 

Puyallup watershed floodplains are simultaneously undergoing multiple landscape and land use changes. The purpose of this metric is to observe and summarize all of these changes from a high-level and qualitative perspective. FFTF Partners will come together on a biennial basis in a State of the Floodplain Summit meeting to review results of ongoing monitoring and share first-hand knowledge to characterize the current status and condition of the floodplain. Partners will take into account the monitoring results, group knowledge, and other factors to come up with a qualitative status assessment of floodplain condition. Descriptive status categories (e.g., improving, staying the same, declining) will be discussed by FFTF Partners at the first State of the Floodplain Summit meeting as well as potential weighting factors for determining status.

More information about the State of the Floodplain Summit can be found in the Monitoring Plan.

FFTF GOAL(S): All goals 
BASELINE YEAR: 2018 (First year of reporting)
STATUS: None to report; baseline information to be established in 2018
SOURCE(S): FFTF Partner State of the Floodplain Summit

Farm revenue

What is the gross and net revenue from farming?

Every 5 years, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) the Census of Agriculture is conducted by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The most recent census was in 2012. The census includes a variety of statistics with the key parameters for this metric as: 1) Total income from farm-related sources, gross before taxes and expenses, and 2) Net cash farm income of operation.

In 2012, the total market value of agricultural products sold County-wide was $90,933,000.
In 2012, the total income from farm-related sources County-wide was $5,398,000.
In 2012, the farm incomes (net cash) totalled $8,865,000 County-wide.

The gross and net revenue of farming in Pierce County represents the viability of the farming economy in the county. Changes in these parameters will be tracked and measured against the 2012 Census as a broad indication of farming activity in the County. The 2017 Census will be released in February 2019. 

FFTF GOAL(S): Maintain viable farming economy and critical mass of farmland and farm businesses
BASELINE YEAR: 2012 USDA NASS Census
STATUS: None to report; status will be updated in 2019 when the 2017 Census is released
SOURCE(S): US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Census of Agriculture by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

Farm businesses

How many farm businesses are operating in Pierce County?

Every 5 years, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) the Census of Agriculture is conducted by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The most recent census was in 2012. The census includes a variety of statistics with the key parameters for this metric as: 1) Number of Farms, and 2) Land in Farms. In 2012, there were 1,478 farms across nearly 50,000 acres of Pierce County. The average size of individual farm was 33 acres. This amount was slightly increased from 2007. Land uses on these farms range from pasture, croplands, and woodlands.

Changes in these parameters will be tracked and measured against the 2012 Census as a broad indication of farming activity in the County.  The 2017 Census will be released in February 2019.  

FFTF GOAL(S): Maintain viable farming economy and critical mass of farmland and farm businesses
BASELINE YEAR: 2012 USDA NASS Census
STATUS: None to report; status will be updated in 2019 when the 2017 Census is released
SOURCE(S): US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Census of Agriculture by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

Farm drainage

How are farms in the floodplain being affected by flood events and drainage?

Poor drainage conditions can represent a major risk to agricultural viability. Good drainage is essential to agriculture because most crops cannot tolerate saturated soils or standing water during the growing season. Flooded or saturated fields can cause reduced crop yield or total loss of the crop. When fields remain saturated into the spring, it can delay planting of crops. Saturated soils or standing water in the winter can prevent farmers from planting cover crops, which many farmers use to prevent soil erosion and runoff while adding nutrients to the soil.

FFTF partners seek to track how floodplain projects affect drainage conditions for farms. Some projects may improve drainage conditions through addressing specific maintenance needs, infrastructure, and increasing flood storage. A biennial survey of farmers will provide an indication of how these projects actually affect drainage on farms. The first survey will be conducted in 2018.

FFTF GOAL(S): Improve drainage on existing farms
Maintain viable farming economy and critical mass of farmland and farm businesses
BASELINE YEAR: N/A
STATUS: None to report; baseline information to be established in 2018
SOURCE(S): Survey (responses)

Flood damages

What is the financial impact of flood damage on public infrastructure?

Counties and cities regularly incur costs due to both frequent or catastrophic flood events. Costs include the replacement or rebuilding of public infrastructure as well as the loss of economic productivity during and after a storm event, expenses incurred by private persons or businesses, and the costs of first responders and emergency help. The latter costs are difficult to assess and track consistently over time. For major events or disasters, municipalities apply for FEMA Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Funds. The amount of disaster funds will be tracked and measured against the 2018 baseline as an indication of the cost of flood damages.

FFTF GOAL(S): Reduce flood risk and damage to public infrastructure
Make communities more resilient to flooding and reduce flood risk and damage to private property 
BASELINE YEAR: 2018 (First year of reporting)
STATUS: None to report; baseline information to be established in 2018
SOURCE(S): FEMA Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Funds to Pierce County and Cities of Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting

Restored riparian habitat

How much riparian habitat has been restored?

Restoration projects sponsored by local, state, and tribal partners that seek to improve salmonid habitats typically include restoring riparian conditions through planting of native species and removal of invasives. Riparian plantings provide natural land cover and also reduce water temperatures by shading the stream. The amount of riparian restoration will be tracked and recorded from 2013 into the future to provide a measure of progress toward improving habitat quality for salmonids.

FFTF GOAL(S): Improve habitat quality and increase salmon abundance
BASELINE YEAR: 2013 (First year of Floodplains by Design funding)
STATUS: TBD (Information still to be compiled and reviewed)
SOURCE(S): Habitat Work Schedule information maintained by Pierce County Lead Entity Coordinator with support from Planning & Public Works staff and project sponsors

Restored estuary habitat

How much estuary habitat has been restored?

Less than 5% of estuary habitat remains at the head of Commencement Bay due to extensive historic dredging, filing, and other activities associated with development and urbanization. Restoration projects sponsored by local, state, and tribal partners have re-established tidal marsh and mudflats where possible with additional projects planned in the future. The amount of estuary restoration will be tracked and recorded from 2013 into the future to provide a measure of progress toward improving estuarine habitat.

FFTF GOAL(S): Re-establish intertidal habitat in estuary
BASELINE YEAR: 2013 (First year of Floodplains by Design funding)
STATUS: TBD (Information still to be compiled and reviewed)
SOURCE(S): Habitat Work Schedule information maintained by Pierce County Lead Entity Coordinator with support from Planning & Public Works staff and project sponsors

Water temperature

Are water temperatures changing?

The Washington Department of Ecology has collected water quality data at 26 stream and river stations in the Puyallup watershed. Stations are located on the Puyallup River, Carbon River, White River, Boise Creek, South Prairie Creek, Hylebos Creek, Lake Tapps, Joe’s Creek, and Lakota Creek. The majority of these stations are considered ‘basin type’, which means they are sampled monthly over the course of one year and sometimes sampled every five years. Only one station is considered ‘long-term’, which means Ecology collects water quality data every month of every year.

The long-term station is located in the lower watershed on the Puyallup River at Meridian Street (#10A070). It has been active from 1975 to 2016 with the exception of 1977 and 1976 when no sampling occurred at the station. During the past two decades, water temperature scores varied from good to moderate and back to good. Based on the most recent water-year summary (2015), overall water quality at this station is of moderate concern, as depicted in figure below.  See additional results at: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/eap/riverwq/station.asp?theyear=&tab=wqi&scrolly=441.6000061035156&wria=10&sta=10A070

Pierce County also conducts water quality monitoring of various streams and rivers in the County with additional new locations planned. In the future, results from Pierce County's Water Quality Index (WQI) could be incorporated into this monitoring metric.  More information available at:  https://www.co.pierce.wa.us/1854/Water-Quality-Monitoring

WQI scores for the most recent completed water year (2015) at the Puyallup River at Meridian Street station
FFTF GOAL(S): Improve water quality
Improve spawning habitat quality and increase salmon abundance
BASELINE YEAR: 2012 (Ecology 2012 Water Year Annual Report)
STATUS: 2015 WQI score for temperature: 78 (moderate)
SOURCE(S): Washington Department of Ecology Statewide Water Quality Network

Salmonid abundance

How are salmonids doing in the Puyallup River watershed?

The Puyallup Tribe conducts annual escapement monitoring throughout the Puyallup/White River watershed and publishes findings in annual reports.  The latest Annual Salmon, Steelhead, and Bull Trout Report is available at: https://nwifc.org/section/tribal-technical-reports/

Additional detail for this metric is under development.

 

FFTF GOAL(S): Improve spawning habitat quality and increase salmon abundance
BASELINE YEAR: 2013 (First year of Floodplains by Design funding)
STATUS: TBD (Information still to be compiled and reviewed)
SOURCE(S): Puyallup Tribal Fisheries Department and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife