Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019UT257B

Characterizing streamflow and temperature patterns to determine impacts of summer dewatering on the Blacksmith Fork River

Institute: Utah
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-02-28 End Date: 2020-02-27
Total Federal Funds: $12,410 Total Non-Federal Funds: $28,388

Principal Investigators: Belize Lane

Abstract: Water supply in the intermountain west is increasingly limited and uncertain due to climate change as well as growing and shifting demands. Agriculture is the largest water user across the intermountain west. In agriculture dominated streams, irrigation diversions can drive extremely low baseflows or full channel dewatering during the growing season. Summer dewatering is occurring more frequently and for longer periods, driving changes in streamflow and temperature patterns that negatively impact fish and other aquatic species. Additionally, there is mounting societal interest in instream flows to support recreation, aquatic species, and aesthetic value. The combined effects of climate change, increasing demands, and shifting societal values result in less water that must be divided in more ways. There is a critical need to more efficiently allocate scarce freshwater resources for humans and ecosystems. To address this challenge and improve instream water management in the Blacksmith Fork River in Nibley UT, we propose three study aims: to (1) quantify summer streamflow and temperature patterns in space and time, (2) identify and characterize drivers of flow and temperature variability, and (3) determine how these patterns influence river ecosystem health. This information can be used to develop physically and ecologically informed instream flow targets to inform integrated water management efforts.