Schneider Creek Watershed

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Schneider stream sewer.jpg

The Schneider Creek basin is located in northwest Olympia. The basin is completely contained within the city limits and covers. approximately 635 acres stretching north and south along the plateau above West Bay and Capitol Lake. The basin is generally flat except for the deep-cut ravine found at the lower segment of Schneider Creek. The creek is approximately 2.2 miles long, originating from a stormwater pond adjacent to Decatur Woods Park off of 9th Avenue SW. The first mile of Schneider Creek is piped underground. Historically, there was likely a wetland complex in this portion of the basin that was drained and filled early in the history of Olympia. A stormwater treatment facility at Giles Ave treats water before it flows from the piped section into the open channel through a forested ravine. The last 0.1 mile of the creek is piped under private property and West Bay Drive before discharging into Budd Inlet. This pipe is a partial fish passage barrier. Basin land use is primarily moderate density residential, commercial along the Harrison Ave corridor and West Bay Drive, and forested in the ravine down to West Bay below Giles. (City of Olympia Storm & Surface Water Plan)


  • File:Olympia 2018 surface and storm water plan.pdf - the complete updated SSW plan.
  • File:TRPC 2013 thurston basin evaluation and management.pdf - an EPA-funded report describing general strategies for Thurston sub-basin, including Schneider, and compares streams to each other.
  • Thurston County Stream Team took B-IBI scores at Schneider Creek in 2006. The system is on the edge between moderate and poor.
    • Describes basin as "impacted" with 55.6% forest canopy in 2006 with relatively low potential for forest conversion.
    • The report that zoning could reduce impact of future increase in dwelling units. Buildout could increase total impervious from 2010 level of 21.7% to 28.7%, which is relatively high increment of change among Thurston County streams.
  • - Description of stream mouth by local naturalist Janet Partlow.
  • General Land Office survey maps (see gallery) suggest that creek headwaters were once fed by a large wetland complex near the current intersection of Division and Harrison.
  • Cutthroat trout are reported as unknown in 1999, 2013, and 2018 reports.
  • File:WFC 2007 schneider creek stream type.pdf - in a fish survey funded by the City, Wild Fish Conservancy identified 72 cutthroat trout "brought to hand".
    • WFC advocates that with 100s of thousands of dollars invested by the City of Olympia in stormwater controls, that new development should protect those investments through use of Low Impact Development techniques.
  • File:May et al 1997 quality indices urbanization effects lowland streams.pdf, while a extensive study covering a set of small streams across Puget Sound, completed scour chain study at schneider creek, which indicated extensive sediment movement over winter floods (over 45cm of total scour over two storm seasons).
    • Schneider has exceptionally high riparian integrity for a stream with its level of impervious surface.
    • Schneider exceed water quality criteria for Zinc, associated with construction and transportation runoff.
  • The Schneider Creek Woods is a privately owned 60 acre contiguous mature woodland, including large Douglas-fir and cedar. It has many epicenters of ivy and holly invasion that are currently unmanaged, as well as extensive areas of undisturbed native understory.
  • An abandoned nursery at 1515 Division St NW is identified by Ecology as a contaminated site. The site report indicates that corrosive wastes, unspecified pesticides, and unspecified petroleum products are present above cleanup levels, and suspected in groundwater. This site is directly upstream of West Fork Schneider Creek.
  • The City of Olympia controls approximately 470 acres of right-of-way within the watershed. Almost all of that landscape is managed for transportation infrastructure, with severe impacts to stream ecology.