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Water-Quality and Aquatic Biology Studies in the Spokane River


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The Spokane River has been impacted by urban activities, dams, and upstream mining. At the time of this study, it was unclear how aquatic biological communities were affected by these activities.

How the USGS Helps

In 1998, our scientists conducted the following assessments at six sites in the Spokane River, two of which were USGS Northern Rockies National Water Quality Assessment Program sampling sites:

  • aquatic habitat
  • macroinvertebrate and fish community
  • contaminants in macroinvertebrate and fish tissue and sediment
  • algae
  • water temperature

The State of Washington continues to use this baseline study to assess risks related to ecological and human health.

USGS biologist holding fish during sampling event.
USGS biologist holding fish during sampling event. Photo by USGS.

Key Findings

In general, the lack of variety and overall numbers of macroinvertebrates and fish species indicate impaired water quality. Please refer to the report below for more information.


MacCoy, D.E., Maret, T.R. 1997, Ecological indicators of water quality in the Spokane River, Idaho and Washington, 1998 and 1999: U.S. Geological Survey Water Fact Sheet 06-703, 8 p.