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Green/Duwamish River Watershed and Cedar River/Lake Washington Watershed

Renton is rich in aquatic resources. The Cedar River is a major river that flows through our City and into Lake Washington. In addition, a large portion of the City drains to the Green/Duwamish River via Springbrook Creek and remnants of the Black River. Both rivers and the lake are home to runs of Chinook salmon, as well as other salmon including sockeye and coho. In fact, the largest run of sockeye salmon in the continental United States swims through Renton every year on its return to the Cedar River!

Unfortunately, salmon are in trouble. In 1999, Chinook salmon and bull trout were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 2005, steelhead trout also were listed as threatened under the ESA. This federal law protects not only the fish themselves, but also the habitat the fish need to survive and prosper. Sockeye and coho salmon have also showed declines but are not doing as poorly as Chinook.

One response to the decline of salmon is to protect and restore the habitat on which salmon depend. Planning what to do by watershed or Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) is an effective way to account for the specific needs of different fish populations and habitats found throughout Puget Sound.

Two major watersheds in Renton are listed below. Click on the links to learn more about these watersheds and the WRIA-based salmon habitat recovery efforts in which Renton participates.

What is a watershed?

A watershed is a basin-shaped area that drains into a river, lake, or the ocean. It includes freshwater (ground and surface) as well as saltwater from Puget Sound. Large watersheds can include two or more smaller watersheds or basins, since large rivers are made up of smaller rivers and streams that flow together.

What is a WRIA?

A WRIA is a Water Resource Inventory Area. Washington State is divided into 62 WRIAs for water and aquatic-resource management issues. A WRIA may include more than one watershed. However, the terms "WRIA" and "watershed" are frequently used interchangeably. In King County, salmon habitat recovery efforts are coordinated by WRIA.

Not sure what watershed or WRIA you are in? Use the watershed look-up.

Watershed Planning: Working Together

Successful conservation and restoration of salmon habitat requires that a wide variety of people work together. In both of the Water Resource Inventory Areas listed above, watershed-based habitat plans were developed by committees that included local elected officials, concerned citizens, representatives of environmental and business interests, and staff from state and federal agencies. Since 2005, these same partners have been working together to implement these plans. This coordinated effort is improving the health of Renton's watersheds for both local people and fish and is contributing to regional efforts to restore Puget Sound.

The City of Renton is proud to be a part of these collaborative efforts. If everyone works together, we can preserve the icon fish of the Pacific Northwest.

Elliot Spawning Channel Repair Project

The City of Renton just completed the Elliot Spawning Channel Repair project (in-water work completed in August and final bank-side plantings completed November 9, 2012). The channel is already being fully utilized by the sockeye for the entire channel length with redds and sockeye counts being monitored by our fish biologist. At last count on November 4, we had 209 sockeye spawners in the Elliot Spawning Channel and we have not reached the historical peak spawner usage that occurs during late November and early December for this channel. This has been a very rewarding project in that immediate environmental utilization by sockeye has been realized.  Movie link of the salmon in the channel.

If you are interested in learning more about the City's involvement in these efforts, or want to find out what Renton is doing for salmon, please contact Ron Straka, Surface Water Utility Manager, at 425.430.7248 or by email using the link below.

Email the Surface Water Utility Manager