Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011NY162B

Reach-Scale Patterns in Hyporheic Exchange at Pristine, Degraded and Restored Rivers

Institute: New York
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-06-01 End Date: 2012-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $20,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $41,957

Principal Investigators: Theodore Endreny, Chuck Kroll

Abstract: New York is home to an estimated 100 natural channel design (NCD) restoration projects, with 10s of NCD projects planned for the 2011 season. To achieve water quality and fishery enhancement goals NY has paid more than $30 million for NCD projects (i.e.,restoration reaches extend 100s to 1000s of meters at a cost of $200 to $3000 per reach meter). Despite a national debate on the efficacy of NCD and informal observations that 30% of NY projects may have partly failed, NY has had no systematic and scientifically accepted assessment of NCD restoration performance. An assessment of NCD performance will help justify continued funding or modify project approaches. There is a research need to assess the performance of NCD and determine whether the NCD projects are meeting river water quality and fishery goals. The scientific community wants an assessment to document, inform and advance river restoration. We propose to use transient storage modeling (TSM) and residence time distribution (RTD) analysis to assess NCD performance. TSM and RTD analysis quantifies components of hyporheic exchange flux (HEF), where HEF is the mixing of water and solutes through the river and riverbed and an indicator of water quality and fishery functions. Our research statistically samples HEF metrics in NYs population of NCD restored reaches, and compares them with reaches classified as degraded (i.e., in need of restoration) and pristine (i.e., not in need of restoration, also called reference reaches).