Education & Outreach
Groundwater Management Area
What is the Groundwater Advisory Committee (GWAC) and Groundwater Management Area (GWMA)?
What is the Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Advisory Committee? The Groundwater Advisory Committee (GWAC) is a multi-agency and citizen-based group that is coordinating the effort to reduce nitrate contamination in the groundwater within the lower Yakima Valley. The GWAC is responsible for developing the Groundwater Management Area Program.
When was the Groundwater Management Area formed?
In 2011 the Washington Department of Ecology granted a request by Yakima County to create a special study area and establish an advisory committee to find solutions to prevent contamination and protect residents who might be exposed to high levels of nitrate in their drinking water. The area is known as the Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Management Area.
In the short-term, the goal is to educate people about the problem and provide information on how they can protect themselves. The long-term goal is to reduce nitrate concentrations in groundwater to below state drinking water standards. This will be accomplished by using available and new scientific data collected in the valley to prevent continued groundwater pollution and make sure residents have clean and safe drinking water.
What is the goal of the Groundwater Management Area?
The goal of the Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Management Area is to reduce nitrate contamination concentrations in groundwater below state drinking water standards of (10 ppm). The target area extends from Union Gap to County Line Road in Yakima County, Washington, minus the Yakama Nation.
The Link below is to the Lead Agency (Yakima County) where you will find more information pertaining to the Ground Water Management Area (GWMA) reports, outcomes, current and future program plans etc.
Soil Health, also referred to as soil quality, is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. This definition speaks to the importance of managing soils so they are sustainable for future generations.
Soil Quality is the capacity of a soil to function for specific land uses or within ecosystem boundaries. … For example, organic-matter content, biological activity, acidity, and salinity are related to the ability of a soil to store and cycle nutrients for plant growth.
Organic matter plays an important role in maintaining soil quality. Organic matter can: Increase the nutrient capacity of the soil and release nutrients to plants. Strengthen soil structure, reduce capping, encourage root development, improve aggregation and prevent erosion and compaction. Best management practices that build soil organic matter could consist of soil amendments, no-till farming practices, and residue management. South Yakima Conservation District has no-till Seed Drills for rent. If you’re interested Please contact or office for more information.
How do you test nutrient levels in soil?
Use a do-it-yourself kit: This basic pH test measures your soil’s acidity and alkalinity and sometimes major nutrient content.
Recommended: Have a soil lab or Ag consultant, or do it yourself collection. A complete soil test is a good investment because a soil lab can thoroughly analyze your soil. See A Guide to Collecting Soil Samples: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec628.pdf
Soil analysis is a set of various chemical processes that determine the amount of available plant nutrients in the soil, but also the chemical, physical and biological soil properties important for plant nutrition, or “soil health”.
Wheat Week is brought to us by Franklin Conservation District and is for 4th & 5th grade students. During this one week course, students are educated about water, soil, plant breeding, energy, systems, and wheat and how they impact our lives. The teachers are asked to plan together so each day for five days, 3-4 classrooms come can together to receive one hour lessons.
For the school year September 2017 – June 2018, 859 students and 28 teachers participated in the Wheat Week educational program. Students from Outlook Elementary; Chief Kamiakin Elementary, Pioneer Elementary, and Sunnyside Elementary in Sunnyside; Kirkwood Elementary, Lincoln Elementary and Valley View Elementary in Toppenish; Adams Elementary and Satus Elementary in Wapato; and Zillah Intermediate.
Salmon in the Classroom
The Benton Conservation District and Franklin Conservation District are proud to sponsor “Salmon in the Classroom” in eastern Washington. Through this program, students can hatch salmon eggs at school, learn about salmon lifecycle and habitat and learn how to test water quality. The hands-on experience of raising fish helps students realize that salmon are one of the many benefits of our eastern Washington rivers. Classroom lessons on salmon anatomy and lifecycle compliment science and math, while historic and cultural lessons about salmon relate to Washington state history, social studies and geography.
Due to the ongoing changes in our education system, we will be hosting Salmon in the Classroom virtually. When you follow the links below you will find our online Salmon in the Classroom material. You will find Salmon anatomy lessons, a salmon tank live stream, and daily updates on our growing salmon. Watch them grow from egg to alevin!
Benton CD’s web page also has links to 10 individual lessons about salmon. Link:
Colotelo and Rachel Little, outreach coordinator and fish biologist with the Benton Conservation District, partnered to put on this year's Salmon Summit. (Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)