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Bear Creek Watershed Management Study

Bear Creek Watershed Management Study

Study and report completed

The Bear Creek Watershed Management Study (Study) report, formerly referred to as a Watershed-Scale Stormwater Plan, of the Bear Creek Basin in the Greater Lake Washington (WRIA 8) outlines recommendations to restore Bear Creek to existing and designated uses, so that it provides a healthy environment for the community and aquatic species.

Bear Creek sampling

The goal of the Study is to link stormwater management and salmon recovery and identify recommendations to ensure hydrologic, water quality, and stream channel habitat conditions fully support existing and designated uses.

The specific objectives of the study are as follows:
  • Demonstrate the ability of multiple jurisdictions to collaborate on a watershed basis: Establish multi-jurisdictional partnerships focused on working together to restore Bear Creek.
  • Holistically assess existing conditions of in-stream habitat, near-shore buffer integrity, wetlands, and watershed/stormwater characteristics: Look at existing data and studies; initiate the collection of new data; and develop the necessary mapping for accurate watershed characterization.
  • Model existing conditions and future conditions: Develop the analytical tools to estimate both hydrologic and water quality issues.
  • Model potential solution suites: Identify the land use and stormwater management strategies to achieve established goals for restoring Bear Creek, while recognizing possible economic constraints.
  • Collaboratively develop recommendations that transcends jurisdictional boundaries.
  • Complete recommendations that are realistic and achievable by all local governments involved.


King County led the planning process in collaboration with Snohomish County, City of Redmond, City of Woodinville, and the Washington State Department of Transportation to develop the Bear Creek Watershed Management Study report.

Bear Creek Basin Stormwater Plan study area

Public Involvement

The Study report was released for public review on February 21. A public meeting was held on March 7 and feedback on the study was invited through a public comment period that ended on March 21. The Study report and supporting documentation was submitted to Washington State Department of Ecology on April 4, 2018.

Because the outcomes from this Study process may influence Stormwater Management Policies locally and for the decades to come, we are very interested in hearing your input and feedback as the Study is implemented.

To inform on future actions, and ensure that a multitude of perspectives are considered, King County welcomes input from the public, local groups and organizations, state and federal agencies, and tribal nations.

Timeline (newest to oldest)


  • King County is required to conduct a watershed-scale stormwater planning effort to satisfy permit obligations under section (S5.C.5.c) in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase I Municipal Stormwater Permit.
  • The NPDES was established by Congress in 1972 as part of the Clean Water Act. The municipal NPDES program issues permits to municipalities and requires them to undertake efforts to reduce stormwater pollution by implementing steps referred to as best management practices (BMPs), which refer to a wide variety of pollution prevention systems or efforts. The Clean Water Act allows the EPA to delegate NPDES permitting to individual states that meet specified requirements.
  • The current NPDES Phase 1 Municipal Stormwater Permit was issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology, effective August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2018, and was modified January 16, 2015.
  • King County selected Bear Creek watershed for the watershed-scale stormwater planning effort because it was identified by the Washington State Department of Ecology as a targeted watershed for stormwater retrofit planning due to its “high integrity.”
  • Substantial development has occurred in the watershed and more is expected to come, with expansion of disturbances emanating from redevelopment and new development.
  • This work builds upon the Bear Creek 1995 Basin Plan that recommended ways to protect valuable stream, wetland and fishery habitat and reduce flooding, erosion and sedimentation.

For more information about the Bear Creek Watershed Management Study, please contact Jeff Burkey, Project Manager, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Science and Technical Support Section.