Changing Our Thinking

Water Quality and Aquatic Resource Monitoring

Martin Environmental has significant experience in water quality and aquatic resource monitoring in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Martin Environmental has served a diverse range of clients and monitoring projects associated with
forestry, hydropower, mining and oil developments.  Our services have included:


·         Evaluation of water quality impacts on aquatic biota and habitat

·         Evaluation of federal and state water quality criteria

·         Fish toxicology studies

·         Instream habitat and riparian monitoring

·         Monitoring design and implementation for adaptive management decision

·         Water quality sampling and monitoring

Selected Projects

Bull Run Hydroelectric Project Turbidity Monitoring & Evaluation
Client: Portland General Electric
Period: 2004 – present
Summary: In summer 2007 Portland General Electric (PGE) removed the Marmot Dam and associated facilities as part of their decommissioning of the Bull Run Hydroelectric Project on the Sandy River, OR.  Removal of this large dam resulted in river channel disturbances and the release of sediment that was stored behind the dam. Monitoring was required by federal and state regulatory agencies to document environmental impacts of the decommissioning project on water quality in the Sandy River. To address the monitoring needs, PGE contracted with Romey Associates in partnership with Martin Environmental to design and implement a pre- and post-project turbidity monitoring program. The monitoring program incorporated continuous recoding and telemetry transmittal systems to facilitate real-time monitoring and online data retrieval. Martin Environmental assisted in data analysis, interpretation of results, and technical reporting in quarterly and annual project status reports.

Status and Trends of Fish Habitat Conditions on Private Timberlands in Southeast Alaska

Client: Sealaska Corporation and Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Period: 1994 – present

Summary: The effectiveness of the Forest Resources and Practices Act (FRPA) to protect water quality and fish habitat is a region wide concern for Southeast Alaska. In recognition of FRPA needs, Sealaska and the Alaska DNR, through the Alaska Clean Water Action Grant program, initiated a riparian BMP effectiveness monitoring program in the early 1990’s to facilitate long-term trend monitoring on private timberlands. Sealaska contracted with Martin Environmental to design, implement, and maintain long-term monitoring of stream habitat and riparian conditions. Annual reports and technical presentations to Sealaska and the Alaska Board of Forestry by Martin Environmental have provided valuable feedback to the states adaptive management program.  

Monitoring Fine Sediment Intrusion of Spawning Gravels in Streams on the North Olympic Peninsula

Client: Green Crow Timber, LLC

Period: 2007 – 2008

Summary: In Washington, forest land owners are required to implement road maintenance and abandonment plans (RMAP) that are designed to reduce fine sediment runoff from road construction, maintenance, and use. The effectiveness of RMAP’s to reduce sediment delivery to streams and to protect aquatic habitat needs monitoring and validation as part of the statewide adaptive management program. To address this need, the timber industry asked Martin Environmental to design and test a cost-effective approach for monitoring the effectiveness of forest practice BMPs to protect spawning gravel quality in streams. Martin Environmental demonstrated in a pilot study that sediment intrusion traps (built in collaboration with industry) performed well and provided a low cost method for detecting changes in fine sediment that may result from logging activities. The project report included study results, statistical sampling schemes, and estimates of effort needed to conduct a similar monitoring program.

Sullivan Hydroelectric Project Total Disolved Gas Monitoring & Evaluation

Client: Portland General Electric

Period: 2008 – present

Summary: Dissolved gas supersaturation is a condition that results from entrainment of atmospheric gasses in water and naturally occurs at waterfalls and may be human-caused; often at hydroelectric facilities. Supersaturation can result in gas bubble disease which has caused mortality in a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates. Total dissolved gas (TDG) superstaturation is a regulatory concern for the Sullivan Hydroelectric Project on the Willamette River, OR.  To minimizing TDG from project operations, PGE needed to examine how operational and natural conditions influence overall TDG in the river. Romey Associates in partnership with Martin Environmental were contracted to design and implement a TDG study and monitoring program. Romey Associates installed state-of-art TDG sensors and conducted monitoring before, during, and following a series of operational tests.  Martin Environmental is assisting in data analysis, interpretation of results (including biological risk assessment), and technical reporting in project status reports.     

An Analysis of the Effects of Temperature on Salmonids of the Pacific Northwest With Implications for Selecting Temperature Criteria

Client: Weyerhaeuser Company and Washington Forest Protection Association (WFPA)

Period: 1999 – 2003

Summary: During 2000 to 2003, Washington and Oregon revised their state water temperature standards based a formal review of temperature criteria that is needed to protect aquatic life with emphasis on salmonid species. Martin Environmental was initially contracted by Weyerhaeuser and later by WFPA to collaborate with industry scientists in conducting a technical evaluation of temperature influences on salmonid growth and survival. Martin Environmental lead the science team that implemented a biological risk-based approach to establish temperature criteria. The results of this quantitative analysis (published by Sustainable Ecosystems Institute: had a significant influence on temperature standards that were adopted by northwest states.   

The Effectiveness of Riparian Buffer Zones for the Protection of Water Quality and Fish Habitat in Michael Creek

Client: Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Period: 2004

Summary: During 1993 to 1996 the Alaska Departments Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, and Atikon Forest Products, Inc. conducted a monitoring program in the Lake Florence Watershed, Admiralty Island, to evaluate the effectiveness of riparian buffers in protecting water quality and fish habitat. Individual topic reports followed the study, but no comprehensive analysis was available. Therefore, in 2004, Martin Environmental was contracted  to re-analyze all of the data with a special emphasis on turbidity, temperature, and fish habitat responses to riparian timber treatments. Martin Environmental performed a detailed statistical analysis of the data and prepared a final report that assessed the effects of riparian treatments on water quality and aquatic habitat.

Effects of Petroleum-Contaminated Waterways on the Migratory Behavior of Adult Pink Salmon

Client: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Period: 1988 – 1989

Summary:  Does exposure to oil-contaminated waters disrupt the migration behavior of adult Pacific Salmon? To address this question, Dr. Martin (Martin Environmental) lead an interdisciplinary science team that tracked acoustic tagged pink salmon movements as they migrated through a small bay near Seldovia, Alaska. Groups of salmon that were released 2 km from their home stream were tracked as the fish returned through the small bay during periods with and without a simulated oil spill (i.e., experimental release of aromatic hydrocarbon solution). Study results enabled NOAA to determine the potential effects of oil exposure to migrating salmon.