The U.S. Geological Survey, Washington State Department of Ecology, and Puyallup Tribe of Indians monitored water temperature, specific conductance, pH, and dissolved-oxygen concentrations in the White River at river miles 4.9 and 1.8 from August until mid-October 2002. Water diverted from the White River upstream from the monitoring sites into Lake Tapps is returned to the river at river mile 3.6 between the two sites. The same characteristics were measured in a cross section of the Puyallup River estuary at river mile 1.5 during high and low tides in September 2002.
In late August, maximum daily water temperatures in the White River of 21.1oC (degrees Celsius) at river mile 4.9 and 19.6oC at river mile 1.8 exceeded the water-quality standard of 18oC at both monitoring sites. In mid-September, maximum daily water temperatures at river mile 4.9 exceeded the standard on 5 days. From August 2-25, water temperatures at both monitoring sites were similar and little or no water was discharged from Lake Tapps to the White River. Increases in water temperature at river mile 1.8 in late September and early October were caused by the mixing of warmer water discharged from Lake Tapps with cooler water in the White River.
Specific conductance in the White River usually was lower at river mile 1.8 than at river mile 4.9 because of mixing with water from Lake Tapps, which has a lower specific conductance.
Maximum values of pH in the White River at river mile 4.9 often exceeded the upper limit of the water-quality standard, 8.5 pH units, from early September until mid-October, when turbidity decreased. The pH standard was not exceeded at river mile 1.8.
Dissolved-oxygen concentrations in the White River were often lower at river mile 1.8 than at river mile 4.9 because of mixing with water discharged from Lake Tapps, which has lower dissolved-oxygen concentrations. The lowest concentration of dissolved oxygen observed was 7.9 mg/L (milligrams per liter) at river mile 1.8. The lower limit allowed by the water-quality standard is 8 mg/L.
Concentrations of dissolved oxygen measured in a cross section of the Puyallup River estuary at high tide on September 12, 2002, ranged from 9.9 to 10.2 mg/L in fresh water at the surface and from 8.1 to 8.4 mg/L in salt water near the riverbed. These values were within limits set by Washington State water-quality standards for dissolved oxygen of 8 mg/L in fresh water and 6 mg/L in marine water.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Water Temperature, Specific Conductance, pH, and Dissolved-Oxygen Concentrations in the Lower White River and the Puyallup River Estuary, Washington, August-October 2002