The Tribal Environmental Quality program within the Natural Resources Department, provides assistance to the community and tribal programs with respect to environmental health and water quality considerations. This includes coordination of, and participation in, tribal and regional environmental cleanups, Brownfields property conversions, water quality monitoring (streams and lakes), as well as monitoring off reservation development projects to ensure that adverse impacts to Treaty resources (water, fish, wildlife, habitat) does not occur.
In the TEQ program we take monthly water quality readings around the Elwha River and on Lake Sutherland to monitor changes that might affect human health of the environment (e.g. salmonid life history or aquatic organisms). This is also done the in the Elwha estuary with on-site sensors to monitor changes since dam removal. Interestingly, the estuary/ delta complex has expanded and become a much more dynamic system. The delta has continued to evolve through multi-thread channels and nearshore longshore transport of sediment, primarily to the east towards Ediz Hook.
We monitor for bacterial blooms in Lake Sutherland and work with Clallam County to monitor at Crescent Beach. If bacterial indicators surpass a certain threshold, then a second sample is taken for verification. While beaches may be closed due to public health concerns, we have not observed any issues in Lake Sutherland monitoring. Crescent Beach has had posted warnings to swim at your own risk in the past.