Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2013PA207B

Toward Mitigating Effects of Elevated Temperatures on Aquatic Ecosystems: Monitoring Thermal Impacts to Halfmoon Creek

Institute: Pennsylvania
Year Established: 2013 Start Date: 2013-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $7,774 Total Non-Federal Funds: $3,809

Principal Investigators: Lysle Sherwin

Abstract: Halfmoon Creek is a 24 square mile watershed tributary to Spruce Creek, a nationally famous trout stream, in the Little Juniata/Susquehanna River basin of Chesapeake Bay with the Clean Water Act use designation as a High Quality, Cold Water Fishery in the Special Protection “non-degradation” category. Since 2002, Halfmoon Creek has been 303 (d) listed as being a Category 5 (non-attaining designated use requiring a TMDL) by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection due to sediments from agricultural activities and elevated stream temperatures. Numerous stream bank restorations, livestock exclusion stream fencing, riparian buffers and other conservation practices implemented in Halfmoon Creek watershed by various agencies have made progress toward improvement of the aquatic macroinvertebrate metrics used to assess that aspect of biologic condition, however no stream temperature data are available to evaluate whether the stream is ultimately capable of sustaining a naturally reproducing brown trout population required to achieve its designated use under the Clean Water Act. This research would establish a stream temperature monitoring network using 15 HOBO Water Temp Pro v2 data loggers deployed from the mouth of Halfmoon Creek along a gradient of the main stem recording hourly water temperatures from May thru August 2013. The objectives are to obtain a baseline of stream temperature data to assess the potential for restoration of wild brown trout, identify hot spots of elevated temperatures exceeding the stress tolerance level of trout as candidate sites for stream buffer restoration, evaluate the beneficial outcomes of implemented practices, and serve as a benchmark to measure trends in stream water temperatures over time.