Summer Stream Flows
Low water flows from rivers and streams around Puget Sound affect salmon runs, wildlife, and our water supply.
Indicator Lead: Jim Shedd, Washington State Department of Ecology
Data last updated on June 26, 2017

Importance to Puget Sound recovery

Although Puget Sound is known for plentiful rain most of the year, the roaring torrents of spring can slow to a lazy stream during our dry and sunny summer months. Although this seasonal variation is normal, low summer flows can affect salmon runs, wildlife, and our water supply.

Development that draws water away from streams can reduce flows even more. Pumps can divert water. New wells tap ground water. New buildings, roads, and parking lots that prevent water from percolating into the ground can reduce the amount of water that would otherwise recharge summer streams. Shrinking snowpack and warmer summer temperatures can also reduce summer flows.

What you can do

  1. Use water friendly natural landscaping and rain gardens where appropriate.
  2. Let the Rain Soak In: Slow stormwater runoff by directing downspouts into lawns, beds or rain gardens. Plant more trees to help capture rainwater.
  3. Test Automatics: Test, repair and adjust your sprinklers annually, and install a rain shut-off device. Water deeply and infrequently—one inch a week is the rule of thumb.
  4. Encourage your neighborhood association or local government to establish a buffer along creeks and streams in your area. More information is available on the Washington State Department of Ecology website.

What our partners are doing

View Near Term Actions helping to advance this Vital Sign

Links for more information

Washington Department of Ecology River and Stream Flow Monitoring

Washington Department of Ecology Flow monitoring network

USGS Water Data

Flow Indicator Methodology Memo