State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project Id: 2010MT220B
Title: Assessing hydrologic response to channel reconfiguration: Science to inform the restoration process, Silver Bow Creek, Montana
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2010
End Date: 2/27/2011
Congressional District: At-large
Focus Categories: Groundwater, Hydrology, Geomorphological Processes
Keywords: Groundwater-surface water interactions, restoration, hydrology, geomorphology
Principal Investigators: Poole, Geoffrey; McGlynn, Brian Leonard (Montana State University)
Federal Funds: $ 8,328
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 16,706
Abstract: Complex interactions between the physical structure of the streambed and the hydraulic characteristics of overlying surface-waters govern storage and exchange processes responsible for transporting water and solutes among the stream, riparian zone, and alluvial aquifer. Such hydrologic transport and retention mechanisms create vertical, lateral and longitudinal linkages among surface and subsurface biotic communities distributed along stream corridors. Although stream restoration activities continue to multiply in number and scope across Montana and the U.S, few studies have investigated how restoration design and subsequent evolution of restored streams and floodplains may influence reach-scale hydrology. This impedes the development of stream restoration techniques that can enhance hydrologic behavior and yield self-sustaining improvements in water chemistry and habitat quality. We seek funding to evaluate the effect of channel reconfiguration on reach-scale solute transport and hydrologic retention in impacted and restored reaches of Silver Bow Creek, Montana and 1) identify relationships between measures of hydrologic retention, streambed structure, and channel hydraulics, and 2) identify useful metrics for evaluating the condition of hydrologic function and its trajectory toward or away from baseline conditions. We will analyze and compare data collected during the summer and fall of 2009, which allows quantification of solute transport characteristics, gains and losses of channel water to groundwater, channel morphology and surface hydraulics in several stream reaches before and after reconfiguration of the channel. Results from this research will: 1) elucidate the relationships between remedial/restorative actions, physical characteristics of the streambed, and hydrologic storage and exchange, and 2) provide a protocol for assessing reconfiguration-derived changes in hydrologic retention and solute transport, critical components of stream function in future restoration planning, monitoring, and evaluation.

Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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