Buck Creek Flow Restoration

Salmonid Restoration Planning and Assessments

Restoration Planning And Coordination
Project ID16-Yaka-03
Recovery DomainsWillamette and Interior Columbia
Start Date04/01/2017
End Date09/30/2021
Last Edited11/24/2021
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With the support of this grant, the City of White Salmon’s consultant, Aspect Consulting, commenced with a White Salmon River Source Reliability/pilot study to assess feasibility of moving a portion of the City of White Salmon (City) municipal water source from Buck Cr. to the mainstem White Salmon River in order to reduce the impacts from water withdrawals on the seasonally flow-limited creek, which supports anadromous fish since the removal of Condit Dam in 2012. The consultant completed their analysis of White Salmon River water quality and treatment alternatives; they initiated the pilot test on April 28th, 2021, and plans to run continuously until October 2021 to reflect the most conservative period of operations being considered for buildout of a slow sand filtration plant (the completed source generally expected to operate from June through October as needed each year). As of this writing, the City is pilot-testing a slow sand treatment system to evaluate treatment requirements and constraints for a new potable supply sourced from the White Salmon River. The pilot test design is described in the Quality Assurance Project Plan City of White Salmon Pilot Testing (Aspect, 2021c) and Plan Summary for the City of White Salmon Slow Sand Filtration Pilot Test (Aspect, 2021b).

Please see the Aspect Consulting Draft Memorandum to Washington Dept. of Health 8/26/21 (attached under project documents section) for a status update on the White Salmon Slow Sand Treatment Pilot Study.

Project Benefit    

The White Salmon River subbasin is historic habitat for Lower Columbia Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Coho (O. kisutch), Columbia River Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), Middle Columbia steelhead (O. mykiss), bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), coastal cutthroat trout (O. clarkii ) and Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus), as well as other resident fish species. Buck Creek is one of the largest tributaries in the historic range of anadromous salmonids in the White Salmon River subbasin, constituting approximately 25% of historic and potential tributary habitat for steelhead, and a significantly higher proportion (over 50%) of Chinook and Coho tributary habitat. The goal of this project is to restore flows to Buck Cr. for the benefit of fish and aquatic resources by identifying and implementing an alternative source to the current year-round, exclusive use of Buck Cr. as the domestic water supply for the City of White Salmon, WA. Surface withdrawals and related infrastructure on Buck Cr. limit passage, habitat availability and quality for anadromous salmonids. The YN and USGS conducted a study in 2009-2010 (before the removal of Condit Dam downstream at RKM 5.3) assessing fish populations and habitat conditions. Data collected for this study and other data indicate that flow is a factor limiting fish abundance and productivity in the creek, including flow-related temperature issues in the lower creek below the City’s and an irrigation district’s diversions. Since passage on the mainstem White Salmon was fully restored in 2012, Buck Cr. has once again become accessible to anadromous fish. Since Condit Dam’s removal, conditions in the mainstem White Salmon have been recovering quickly, and habitat conditions in the mainstem White Salmon River downstream of Buck Cr. should not be a significant limiting factor for fish accessing the creek to spawn and rear. YN Fisheries staff has conducted spawning surveys for steelhead since 2013, documenting use and spawning in the lower creek. Recent surveys by USGS suggest use by Coho, as well, including apparent spawning activity. Buck Creek, as the rest of the White Salmon River and its tributaries, has no meaningful instream flow protections set (a 2 cfs surface water source limitation was recommended in the 1950s by WDFW for the creek for resident fish), and during low summer flows, water rights on the creek can exceed stream flows. The YN is working collaboratively with the City of White Salmon, WDFW and the Dept. of Ecology to find solutions that will meet the city’s municipal needs while improving flows and ecological conditions in the creek for anadromous fish and other aquatic resources. The timeline for implementation of a solution will depend on the preferred alternative arrived at, funding, and other factors. Several different potential funding sources are being investigated to help fund a potential change in point of diversion and related infrastructure, including from the WDOE Office of Columbia River. Discussions and assessments have also been underway for several years to quantify and address the irrigation withdrawal impacts to fish passage and stream flows on Buck Cr., and YN has encouraged the irrigation and municipal processes to be combined, however it has not been treated as a single issue with a quest for a combined solution thus far by the water right holders on the creek. Nonetheless, solutions for fish passage and streamflow enhancement/ restoration related to the irrigation diversion are being assessed through a separate process, and the hope is to achieve synergistic benefits. The results of a WDFW study on current and potential future flow conditions are still being finalized, but preliminary indications are that a restoration of flows during the low flow period would have a substantial benefit for fish populations, particularly for migratory salmonids.


Metric Completed Originally

Funding Details

Report Total:$95,000

Project Map


Buck CreekProject Worksite    

  • Worksite Identifier: Buck CreekProject Worksite
  • Start Date: 04/01/2017
  • End Date: 09/30/2021
Area Description
Since this proposal is not for an on-the-ground restoration action, location information provided below is only for reference and orientation purposes.

Location Information

  • Basin: Middle Columbia
  • Subbasin:
  • Watershed:
  • Subwatershed:
  • State: Washington
  • Recovery Domain: Willamette and Interior Columbia
  • Latitude: 45.86686
  • Longitude: -121.55206


  • Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon ESU
  • Columbia River Chum Salmon ESU
  • Middle Columbia River Steelhead DPS
  • Lower Columbia River Chinook Salmon ESU




  • B.0 Salmonid Restoration Planning and AssessmentsY (Y/N)
    •      . . B.0.a Planning And Assessment Funding 95,000.00
    •      . . B.0.b.1 Area Encompassed 200.0
    •      . . B.0.b.2 Stream Miles Affected 4.00
    •      . . B.1 Restoration Planning And CoordinationY (Y/N)
      •      . . . . B.1.a Planning and Coordination funding 95,000.00
      •      . . . . B.1.b.6 Support to local entities or agenciesY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . B.1.b.6.a
          Name of plan developed or implemented
          Aspect Consulting conducted pilot study to investigate a slow sand treatment system to evaluate treatment requirements and constraints for a new potable supply sourced from the White Salmon River for the City of White Salmon, WA
        •      . . . . . . B.1.b.6.b
          Description and scope of the plan developed/implemented
          The City of White Salmon’s consultant, Aspect Consulting, completed an analysis of White Salmon River water quality and treatment alternatives 2020-2021. The White Salmon River Source Reliability/pilot study was completed during April-October 2021 that tested water quality from the mainstem White Salmon River and the ability for a slow sand filtration system to filter out contaminants, sediment, etc. such as the City currently uses on Buck Cr. Outreach to stakeholders was performed and will continue, such as the USFS, which has management responsibility for the federally designated Wild & Scenic River segment where the potential point of diversion is located. The City has requested from the Dept. of Health a technical review of the pilot study results to date, and for feedback on any test procedure and/or data collection recommendations ahead of the planned completion of the test on November 1, 2021. A report will follow and additional phases of the investigation will ensue with other funding sources.