Clarks Creek (TMDL) Project

Background


Clarks Creek is a very important water resource. It provides habitat for five species of salmonids and is home to Tribal and state fish hatcheries. Currently, the creek does not meet standards for dissolved oxygen and fine sediment. To help address this concern, The Washington State Department of Ecology worked with the Puyallup Tribe, Environmental Protection Agency, and local stakeholders to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, for the creek. You can view the TMDL on Ecology's website. The TMDL identifies the maximum amount of pollution the creek can accept while still meeting regulatory standards. It then assigned specific targets to help reduce pollution and restore water quality.



The Clarks Creek Restoration Plan outlines the County’s strategy to comply with the TMDL and restore water quality to the creek. The Plan identifies capital projects and programmatic actions to treat stormwater flow and reduce sediment loads into Clarks Creek. It will be funded through a combination of local investments and state and federal grants. The Plan also recommends a comprehensive reassessment of water quality after 5 years of implementation efforts. The Reassessment is now underway, and results will help the County to adaptively manage future water quality improvement efforts.

Contact Us


Tim Hagan 
Project Manager

(253) 341-8156 [email protected]

Clarks Creek 05

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a TMDL?
  2. What’s the difference between a TMDL and other types of water quality improvement plans?
  3. Is Clarks Creek the only TMDL in Pierce County?
  4. What are the main water quality problems in Clarks Creek?
  5. Would dredging fix the problem of excess sediment in Clarks Creek?
  6. How do the agencies charged with improving Clarks Creek know they are targeting the correct sources?
  7. What strategies are being used to address the impairments in Clarks Creek?
  8. Could excess iron cause the types of impairments found in Clarks Creek?
  9. Are nutrients from groundwater causing the impairments in Clarks Creek?

A TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, is a regulatory term from the 1972 Clean Water Act. A TMDL is a type of study that determines how much of a pollutant a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards. If pollutant levels are higher than a waterbody can digest, then limits are imposed on how much of the pollutant can be discharged by stakeholders in the watershed. You can think of TMDLs as a pollution “diet” developed to guide a watershed back to health. If the TMDL is calculated correctly and the numeric targets are achieved for each pollution source, the water body should return to a healthy condition over time.  


In Washington State, TMDLs are developed and administered by the Department of Ecology. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) then reviews and certifies the TMDL, or else develops and issues their own revised version. TMDLs may include any number of water bodies and pollution types. For instance, the Clarks Creek Dissolved Oxygen and Sediment TMDL addresses two separate water quality parameters in Clarks Creek and its four main tributaries (Rody, Woodland, Diru and Meeker Creeks).