Watershed Resource Planning

All activity that occurs within a watershed will affect that watershed's natural resources and water quality. A watershed-scale management plan will comprehensively identify activities that affect the health of the watershed and make recommendations to properly address the concerns so that adverse impacts from degradation are reduced.

What is a watershed?

Watersheds are natural boundaries that cross political boundaries of cities, counties, states, and nations. Watershed boundaries are defined by topographic divides which cause surface water runoff to drain into a common waterbody. The major watersheds in Washington State are identified by Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIA) codes. Nationwide, a similar system identifies watersheds according to a hydrological code or hydrologic unit code (HUC).

While major watersheds are classified into WRIAs or HUCs, it is important to realize watershed boundaries can be identified at different scales. For example, the entire Puyallup-White River system, including all its tributaries, is one large watershed identified as WRIA 10 or HUC 17110014. Many smaller watersheds (or subbasins) can be identified within this larger watershed. Examples of smaller watersheds within the Puyallup-White River system include the Carbon River, Clarks Creek, or Clearwater River.

What is a WRIA?

The Washington State Department of Ecology, along with other natural resource agencies in The State, divided Washington into 62 Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIA). The 62 WRIA deliniate the major watersheds in the state. Each WRIA can be further divided into smaller watersheds or subbasins.

The State of Our Watersheds Report compiled data covering 22 watersheds in western Washington, tracking indicators that directly tie to salmon productivity.

“The snapshot we cover in this report covers the years around the beginning of the Great Recession and the years the economy started to improve,” said Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commision. “You might think we’d see an improvement in some numbers, but all we see is a steady decline in salmon habitat.”
In addition to regional reports about Puget Sound and the Olympic coast, the report is broken down into tribal areas of interest. This is the third edition (2016) of the report, which is available in its entirety at: http://geo.nwifc.org/sow  Or view full report, PDF version, HERE .

What is a HUC?

HUC is an acronym for Hydrologic Unit Code. HUCs are a hierarchical way of identifying watersheds in the United States. Each HUC can be further divided into smaller watersheds or subbasins, even the smallest HUC, HUC-12. Each HUC consists of two to twelve digits based on six levels of classification:

  • Region (HUC-2)
  • Subregion (HUC-4)
  • Accounting unit (HUC-6)
  • Cataloging unit (HUC-8)
  • Watershed (HUC-10)
  • Subwatershed (HUC-12)