State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project Id: 2010NH128B
Title: Hydrologic and Isotopic Investigation of Base Flow Generation in the Headwaters Lamprey River Watershed
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2010
End Date: 2/28/2011
Congressional District: NH01
Focus Categories: Wetlands, Surface Water, Geochemical Processes
Keywords: Base Flow, Water Resources
Principal Investigator: Davis, John Matthew
Federal Funds: $ 24,624
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 49,825
Abstract: Many watersheds throughout New England are experiencing population growth resulting in increasing demands for water withdrawals and increased loading of anthropogenic by-products. When combined with climate change forecasts calling for less snowpack and warmer summers, the hydrologic fluxes and stores are likely to be stressed to unprecedented levels in the coming decades. Because of the relatively limited storage capacity of watersheds in northern New England, understanding the sources of base flow - their sizes and relative contributions - is particularly important in the forecasting of seasonal low flow conditions. The proposed research focuses on the use of natural environmental tracers combined with hydrometric measurements to characterize hydrologic residence times, pathways, and processes. Results to date suggest that water isotopes in the Lamprey River result from a mixture of at least two sources -- groundwater and some other source that has undergone evaporative fractionation. The 1-year research project proposed here will expand the suite of tracers and focus on the role that wetlands play in sustaining base flow in the Headwaters Lamprey River Watershed. The similarities observed between the water isotopes in the HLRW and other river basins across coastal New England suggests that the hydrologic processes affecting base flow are similar among the basins and the results of research focused on the HLR Watershed can be generalized to other watersheds in the region. Understanding of the sources of base flow will greatly improve our ability to manage the watershed and insure sustained water supply and water quality in the face of ongoing environmental change.

Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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