Groundwater Monitoring

GW 129The Walla Walla Valley River Basin is approximately 1,760 square miles, with an underlying shallow alluvial aquifer of 200 square miles.  Many farmers, businesses and residents use water from the shallow aquifer making it a highly important source of water for Walla Walla Valley. In addition to supplying wells with groundwater, the shallow aquifer also feeds the springs, streams, and rivers of the Walla Walla basin.  The high connectivity between the shallow aquifer and surface water bodies is important in enhancing base flow and, during the summer, cooling water temperatures for threatened salmonid species in the Walla Walla River Basin.

For many years the volume of water being pumped out of the aquifer has exceeded the amount of water recharging it, and the shallow aquifer has fallen into a state of decline.  Since 2001, the Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council (WWBWC) has been constructing a community based network of shallow monitoring wells (250 feet or less) in the Walla Walla Basin as part of its long-term efforts to understand the shallow (unconfined) alluvial aquifer.  The WWBWC currently monitors over 100 wells in the Walla Walla River Basin.  Well monitoring data has allowed the WWBWC to design projects to mitigate aquifer decline and inform groundwater management decisions in the basin.

The shallow well monitoring network is a grassroots, community effort lead by the WWBWC.  The well network includes both urban and rural wells in and around Milton-Freewater, Umapine, Walla Walla, College Place, Lowden and Touchet.  They are owned by a variety of water users, including states, counties, cities, businesses, and universities within the basin.  However, most monitoring wells are irrigation or old domestic wells owned by private land owners.  All the participating well owners do so voluntarily, aiding in the effort to understand and mitigate the decline of the aquifer: a critically important resource to the entire Walla Walla Valley community.

Walla Walla Basin Groundwater Monitoring


 Surface Water Monitoring

SurfaceMonitoringThe WWBWC also maintains gauge stations on the main stem of the Walla Walla River at Grove Bridge, Nursery Bridge, Tum-a-lum Bridge, Pepper Bridge, Beet Road, McDonald Road Bridge and at Pierce's Green Valley RV Park.  Additional seasonal gauge stations are installed in the South Fork and North Fork Walla Walla tributaries.

The Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council began its small-order stream and spring monitoring program in 2002 after the agreement to leave base flows in the main stem of the Walla Walla river went into effect. This network's purpose is to provide the community with supplemental water flow data, which can aid management of the valley's water and support or assuage the fears of the concerned water users. Since 2002, the network has gradually expanded into Washington and evolved to include 47 sites in the Walla Walla Valley, including springs, small order streams, and irrigation ditch sites. This monitoring network covers an area bounded by Walla Walla, Milton-Freewater, and Touchet.

Walla Walla Valley Surface Water Monitoring Network


Weather Stations

WeatherStationThe WWBWC has a network of 3 weather stations in the Milton-Freewater area.  The weather stations are located upriver (near the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Walla Walla River and in the Cottonwood Creek drainage) and in the orchard district near Milton-Freewater.


Walla Walla Valley Weather Stations Network


 Water Quality


StoneCreekSThe Creating Urban Riparian Buffers (CURB) program was funded by the Washington Department of Ecology and was implemented by the Tri-State Steelheaders, Kooskooskie Commons and the Walla Walla County Conservation District.  Over the course of the program, over 80 landowners in Walla Walla and College Place installed riparian buffers.  Riparian buffers improve water quality in streams by reducing water temperatures, non-point source sediment sources and various polluntants such as fecal coliform bacteria, chlorinated pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  These restored riparian habitats filter pollutants, stabilize stream banks and provide shade, nutrients and food for aquatic species.  As part of this program, a monitoring network was established to collected water temperature data along the urban streams.  Working with the other CURB partners, the WWBWC manages and stores the monitoring data associated with this project.


CURB Water Temperature Study Network


Aquifer Recharge

Coming soon



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