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WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSAL

TITLE:           RESTORATION OF DEGRADED MIDWESTERN STREAMS: IMPLICATIONS FOR WATER QUALITY AND BIOLOGICAL COMMUNITIES

Duration: 36 months: 1 September 1997 - 31 August 2000

Federal Funds Requested: $75,000

Non-Federal Funds Pledged: $150,045

Principal Investigator: Gary A. Lamberti , Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556

Congressional District: 3rd Indiana

Statement of Critical Problem

Streams and rivers of the midwestern U.S. have been subjected to a variety of anthropogenic impacts, both direct (e.g., channelization, woody debris removal) and indirect (e.g., riparian modification, wetland loss, watershed land use), that have cumula tively degraded both water quality for human use and stream habitat for aquatic biota. Indiana streams are among the most severely degraded in the region because of extensive row-crop agriculture and expanding urbanization. For well over a century, many c entral and northern Indiana streams have been diverted, straightened, and ditched to accommodate agriculture, to coincide with property boundaries or land developments, to drain wetlands, or to increase capacity to carry floodwaters. In the corn-belt stat es of Illinois and Indiana an estimated 30% or more of all streams have been channelized (Lopinot 1972), and national estimates range from 6 - 70% depending on the region (NRC 1992). The Council on Environmental Quality (1989) estimates that 41 % of all s treams in the U.S. have been subjected to channelization with resulting siltation and bank erosion, which is consistent with an independent estimate that 40% of all U.S. streams have excess siltation and turbidity (Judy et al. 1984). The prevailing result s of these practices have been reduced water quality for downstream systems and human uses together with degraded habitat for stream biota (NRC 1992). In recent years, nationwide interest has been generated for the restoration of degraded or lost aquatic habitats, especially small streams and wetlands where such projects are feasible with local resources. Most previous riverine restorations have occurred in western streams impacted by logging or in northeastern streams impacted by urbanization. Little inf ormation exists on the methods or efficacy of stream restoration in the agricultural Midwest, even though there is a critical need for restoration efforts to improve surface water quality in this region. The National Research Council (1992) has stated tha t "Too often ... the degree of success or failure (of aquatic restorations) is poorly quantified, the exact causes of the eventual outcome are difficult to identify, and the science of restoration ecology is not advanced as quickly as it could be." We pro pose to address this clear deficiency by examining quantitatively the results of 2 stream restorations in Indiana.

Statement of Results or Benefits

A unique scientific opportunity has been presented by the planned restoration of two degraded streams in northern Indiana. The first project will be conducted in an Indiana state park (which was previously agricultural land) and is a collaborative effo rt among a state agency, a public utility, a private consulting firm, and volunteer groups. The second project will be conducted in an urbanized area by the University of Notre Dame in cooperation with a private consulting firm and public user groups. Bot h projects involve the restoration of natural geomorphic features to streams that have been altered severely by channelization and ditching. Currently, there is no evaluation planned for either projects because of cost constraints and lack of expertise (s ee attached letters of support). We propose to use these projects. both of which will commence in late 1997, as the foundation to evaluate the efficacy of stream restoration in this region to improve water quality and stream habitat for aquatic biota. Mos t past stream restoration projects have received very little quantitative evaluation, and we are aware of none in the Midwest that have undergone intensive evaluation at an ecosystem level. Thus, it is impossible to evaluate their effectiveness beyond gro ss visual changes. A strong statistical design and a multi-tiered study of physical, chemical, and biological responses will be used to evaluate the effects of these restoration projects on the stream environment. The timing of the restoration projects wi ll allow a full season of pre-restoration studies before the projects begin and two years of post-restoration evaluation. This information can be used to identify environmental benefits and costs of the projects and to better design restoration projects i n the future by using a specific set of response criteria. For example, one of the restoration projects will be "construction-intensive" whereas as the other restoration will have minimal construction. Differences in specific end-points, such as fish comm unities, may dictate the level of construction and thereby expense needed for similar projects.


U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://water.usgs.gov/wrri/
97grants/in97ncr.htm

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