Apr. 21, 2016 Ecology News

Scientists study Hangman Creek by canoe

SPOKANE –Scientists are floating Hangman Creek from the Idaho border to the mouth just outside of downtown Spokane to study the shape of the riverbed. Data collected by the Washington Department of Ecology will help scientists gain a better understanding of Hangman Creek’s slow stream flow and quantify how pollution influences the creek.

Hangman Creek suffers from low oxygen and high pH, which can result from too many nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen.

Too many nutrients cause depletion of oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Excess nutrients can also cause toxic algae blooms that are harmful to human health.

The new information will be added to data previously collected to develop a water quality improvement plan. The plan will help determine the best way to improve water quality in the creek and also help meet downstream requirements for oxygen in the Spokane River.

Scientists estimate it will take approximately eight days to float the channel as well as a portion of Rock Creek. They will cover approximately 10 to 15 miles per day.

Data will be collected by pulling an instrument behind a canoe that reads water depth, temperature and other information. The depth data helps characterize the riverbed and temperature will indicate where groundwater influences the creek.

The data collected from the float trip will help staff develop a broader study with recommendations to improve oxygen levels and pH for Hangman Creek.