Surface Water Quality
Surface Water Quality Monitoring
The Surface Water Quality Monitoring Program protects public health and the environment through baseline monitoring and source identification work. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, water quality data are used to characterize waters, identify water quality trends over time, identify emerging problems, determine the effectiveness of pollution control programs and help direct pollution control efforts to where they are most needed.
The Surface Water Quality Monitoring Program samples conditions in fresh water flowing over land and eventually into marine water. Waters that are outside the County’s jurisdiction (e.g., within municipal or military areas) are excluded. These areas include NAS Whidbey properties, the City of Oak Harbor, the Town of Coupeville, and the City of Langley.
The Water Quality Monitoring program builds upon previous sampling efforts. Public Health staff monitors surface water quality to identify non-point pollutants that have the potential to contaminate the surface and ground water. Sources of pollution include failing septic systems, domestic animals, and other natural sources. Source identification sampling is focused geographically.
Source identification Objectives include locating areas that exceed water quality standards and determining the sources of contamination.
Island County Lakes
For current status of Island County public lakes, go to the WA State Toxic Algae page HERE.
Lake Closures Policy is based on state guidelines set in June of 2021 which requires local health jurisdictions to post a WARNING when microcystin levels are 8 μg/L or higher, anatoxin-a levels are 1 μg/L or higher, cylindrospermopsin levels are 15 μg/L or higher, and/or saxitoxin levels are 75 μg/L or higher. A lake CLOSURE is required when toxin concentrations are extremely high (> 2,000 μg/L microcystins or > 300 μg/L anatoxin-a) or if pet illnesses/death or human symptoms are reported.
To view the current lake status from any lake in Washington State, visit NWtoxicalgae.org.
Baseline monitoring is sampling that is repeated within the same watershed at the same locations. It is more geographically extensive than Source Identification monitoring.
Baseline Monitoring Objectives help determine if water quality standards are met in watersheds that previously have not been sampled or need additional sampling. For each major water quality parameter, determine the range of variation (by geomorphic and land use category) characteristic of Island County surface waters as necessary to help assign possible causes to exceedances and trends.
Helpful ResourcesWashington State Department of Ecology - A Citizens Guide to Understanding Monitoring
Washington State Department of Ecology - Water Topics
Surface Water Quality Annual Reports and Presentations.
View our latest annual report and presentation: