Monitoring Urban Streams: Strategies and Protocols for Humid-Region Lowland Systems
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Governmental mandates and public awareness have forced progressively smaller and less sophisticated agencies and organizations to initiate stream monitoring programs, particularly in urban and urbanizing areas. Yet many of these monitoring efforts lack either a coherent conceptual framework or appropriately chosen methods, and they rely on monitoring techniques that are simply infeasible for these institutional settings. We identify a monitoring strategy, and specific existing monitoring protocols, that will be useful for the management and rehabilitation of streams in urbanizing watersheds. A monitoring strategy must be developed by 1) identifying the management question(s) being addressed, 2) determining the institutional level of effort required (and available) to make particular kinds of measurements effectively, and 3) identifying what specific parameters should and can be measured. Only a limited set of parameters show much utility or feasibility in addressing the most common management questions being faced by municipalities in urbanizing, humid-area regions of the United States. These include measures of riparian canopy, bank erosion and bank hardening, and in-stream large woody debris. With some additional expertise useful data can also be included on channel gradient, substrate composition, and pools. Nearly all of the other myriad physical parameters that have historically been measured on rivers and streams show little apparent value in these watershed and institutional settings.
- The Water Center