Looking upstream and into the watershed for the big picture of stream health

Christina Y.S. Siu, Shirley E. Clark, Ruth A. Sitler, Katherine H. Baker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

When examining impaired river reaches, the primary focus is improving streamwater quality in the reach and downstream. The degree of damage to the river channel, the biological functions, and the river chemistry are assessed and restoration plans implemented. Few examine the causes of the degradation from upstream and upland areas and manage those problems before performing restoration work downstream. Without watershed management in the upper river system that addresses the stream's stressors, any restoration downstream becomes useless either relatively immediately or over time. Continued and potentially increased high peak flows from development during storms can wash out many restoration elements. Here, we examine the water management in the upper watershed of an unnamed tributary that passes through the Penn State Harrisburg campus, empties into the Susquehanna River, and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay. We also demonstrate the linkages between the lack of integrated water management and the current status of this tributary. The biota within the stream and surrounding the stream lack both diversity and richness. The streambanks are highly eroded and unstable. Current practices on campus (irrigation, grass cutting, etc.), as well as in the agricultural, residential, and industrial areas upstream, and any future campus development can hinder improving the stream's health. As restoration is being planned and implemented, the fact that this is an educational institution allows us to assess the stream's physical, chemical, and biological health both during dry-weather and wet-weather flows, as well as before and after restoration. We plan to evaluate whether on-land restoration and improved stormwater management will affect the effectiveness of in-stream and stream buffer activities. We also plan to continue both biologic and chemical health evaluations of the stream as a function of land-use improvements. This project has supported several years of both undergraduate and Masters'-level research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2009 - World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2009
Subtitle of host publicationGreat Rivers
Pages1344-1353
Number of pages10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 26 2009
EventWorld Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2009: Great Rivers - Kansas City, MO, United States
Duration: May 17 2009May 21 2009

Publication series

NameProceedings of World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2009 - World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2009: Great Rivers
Volume342

Other

OtherWorld Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2009: Great Rivers
CountryUnited States
CityKansas City, MO
Period5/17/095/21/09

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)

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