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Developing & Implementing Ecosystem Flow Recommendations for the Savannah River (GA/SC) A Case Study under the Corps-TNC Sustainable Rivers Project. Sustainable Rivers Project Current Sites. Skagit. West. Green. Ashuelot. Roanoke. Bill Williams. Savannah. White, Black, Little Red.

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slide1

Developing & ImplementingEcosystem Flow Recommendationsfor the Savannah River (GA/SC)A Case Study under the Corps-TNCSustainable Rivers Project

slide2

Sustainable Rivers ProjectCurrent Sites

Skagit

West

Green

Ashuelot

Roanoke

Bill Williams

Savannah

White, Black,

Little Red

slide4

Developing & Implementing Ecosystem Flow Recommendations

Savannah River (GA/SC)

May 2002

Oct 2002 -

Feb 2003

Ongoing

March 2004

(initial)

April 2003

orientation meeting may 2002
Orientation MeetingMay 2002
  • Purpose: Launch a collaboration to collect and apply our best knowledge on flow-ecological process relationships to water management
  • Invitees: Agencies, NGO’s, University Researchers, SREL
  • Outcome: Designed a process and identified key contributors for defining a set of essential flow characteristics needed to sustain the ecological integrity of the Savannah River ecosystem
preparation of literature review oct nov 2002
Preparation of Literature Review(Oct - Nov, 2002)
  • Conduct a literature review of sources that appear useful in informing ecosystem flow recommendations (Savannah and similar systems)
  • Focus on the whole ecosystem, including the shoals, river-floodplain, and estuary
  • Review for completeness by leading scientists in each of the three component areas
preparation of summary report nov 2002 feb 2003
Preparation of Summary Report(Nov 2002 - Feb 2003)
  • key findings about linkage between specific ecological flow components and biotic tolerances or dependencies
  • pictorial models illustrating connection between natural hydrographs and life cycles of representative species
  • box-and-arrow diagrams expressing relationships between ecological flow components and biotic responses or dynamics.
  • Reviewed by leading scientists in the three component areas
ecosystem flow workshop april 2003
Ecosystem Flow Workshop(April 2003)
  • Workhop: 2½ days, >40 scientists (agencies, academics and NGO’s)
  • Three break-out groups defined ecological flow recommendations for:

(i) Augusta shoals;

(ii) river-floodplain section from Augusta shoals to estuary; and,

(iii) estuary

Low Flows, High Flow Pulses, Floods

  • Full group integrated flow recommendations across the 3 river reaches
  • Report generated; reviewed by all workshop participants
slide10

The goal is not to create optimal conditions for all species all of the time; rather, we want to create adequate conditions for all native species enough of the time.

slide13

Really?...

Monitoring, Research, &

Adaptive Management

Key

Wet Year

Avg Year

Dry Year

Ecosystem Flow Recommendations

Savannah River, below Thurmond Dam (River-Floodplain)

  • 50,000-70,000 cfs; 2 weeks, avg every 2 yrs
  • Maintain channel habitats
  • Create floodplain topographic relief
  • Provide fish access to the floodplain
  • control invasive species
  • Maintain wetlands and fill oxbows and sloughs
  • Enhance nutrient cycling & improve water clarity
  • Disperse tree seeds

Floods

>30,000 cfs; 5 pulses, >2 days with 2 events

of 2 week duration (March and early April)

  • 20,000-40,000 cfs; 2-3 days, 1/month
  • Provide predator-free habitat for birds
  • Disperse tree seeds
  • Transport fish larvae
  • Flush woody debris from floodplain to channel
  • Floodplain access for fish
  • Fish passage past NSBLD

High Flow

Pulses

  • <13,000 cfs; 3 successive years, every 10-20 years
  • Floodplain tree recruitment
  • 8,000-12,000 cfs;
  • Exchange water with oxbows

Low Flows

  • >8,000 cfs
  • Larval drift for pelagic spawners
  • <5,000 cfs
  • Adequate floodplain drainage
  • Create shallow water habitat for small-bodied fish
  • 3,000 cfs; 3 successive years every 10-20 years
  • Floodplain tree recruitment

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

slide15

Steps for Developing Ecosystem Flow Recommendations

Savannah River (GA/SC)

May 2002

Oct 2002 -

Feb 2003

Ongoing

March 2004

(initial)

April 2003

slide16

Savannah RiverCase Study Summary

  • Collaborated to define ecosystem flows:
    • done for the whole system (shoals, river-floodplain, estuary)
    • applied best available science
    • completed in one year, for $90K
  • Developing a strategic monitoring plan to assess dam re-operation and inform future management
  • Modeling to assess multiple future scenarios
slide18

Goal: (of the instream flow studies) is “to conserve

biodiversity and maintain biological integrity.”

-- TX Instream Flow Studies: Technical Overview, Aug 8, 03

It’s recognized that...

  • River flow is a “master variable” for maintaining the integrity of freshwater ecosystems
  • Healthy freshwater ecosystems:
    • require that some semblance of the full range of natural flow variability be maintained
    • degrade the more we alter natural flow patterns
developing environmental flows
Developing Environmental Flows

Challenges Include:

  • identifying what components of flow are ecologically most critical in a particular river system
  • quantifying those flow components to help guide water management
  • incorporating new knowledge and understanding into water management over time
  • achieving these tasks for all rivers within resource constraints
developing environmental flows a multi level approach20
Developing Environmental FlowsA Multi-Level Approach

The Common Denominator

  • Low Flows – Determine the amount of habitat available, necessary energy expenditures.
  • High Flow Pulses – Open up additional habitat area, bring additional food material from upstream areas, moderate temperatures and oxygen levels, clean spawning gravels, and provide cues for migration to spawning areas
  • Floods – Create the physical template of the river ecosystem, including formation of oxbows (backwaters) and secondary channels, floodplains, and spawning bars, and keep introduced species populations in check
slide21

From “Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature” by Sandra Postel and Brian Richter (Island Press 2003)

developing environmental flows a multi level approach22
Developing Environmental FlowsA Multi-Level Approach
  • Low Flows, High Flow Pulses, Floods

magnitude, frequency, duration, timing, rate of change

  • Approach: Systematic process to develop and incrementally refine environmental flows
developing environmental flows a four level approach
Developing Environmental FlowsA Four Level Approach
  • Level I: Hydrologic Desk Top Method
  • Level II: Experts Workshop
  • Level III: Detailed Instream Flow Studies
  • Level IV: Adaptive Refinement
developing environmental flows a four level approach24
Developing Environmental FlowsA Four Level Approach
  • Level I: Hydrologic Desk Top Method
  • Level II: Experts Workshop
  • Level III: Detailed Instream Flow Studies
  • Level IV: Adaptive Refinement
level i characteristics
Level I, Characteristics
  • Very quick and inexpensive (least rigorous)
  • Consider as a placeholder (for Levels II or III)
  • Uses hydrologic data only
  • Uses low flows, high flow pulses, floods
  • Apply Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration (IHA) software, Range of Variability Analysis
indicators of hydrologic alteration iha
Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration (IHA)
  • Statistical program
  • Tool for analyzing hydrologic characteristics and changes in those characteristics over time
  • Presents flow and flow alteration in ecologically meaningful terms…

 low flows, high flow pulses, and flood flows (magnitude, timing, frequency, duration, rate of change)

developing environmental flows a four level approach30
Developing Environmental FlowsA Four Level Approach
  • Level I: Hydrologic Desk Top Method
  • Level II: Experts Workshop
  • Level III: Detailed Instream Flow Studies
  • Level IV: Adaptive Refinement
level ii characteristics
Level II, Characteristics
  • Modest time and money required (moderate rigor)
  • Relies on hydrologic data, existing ecological research, and best professional judgement of experts
  • Can be supplemented with a literature review and summary report
  • Uses low flows, high flow pulses, floods
developing environmental flows a four level approach33
Developing Environmental FlowsA Four Level Approach
  • Level I: Hydrologic Desk Top Method
  • Level II: Experts Workshop
  • Level III: Detailed Instream Flow Studies
  • Level IV: Adaptive Refinement
level iii characteristics
Level III, Characteristics
  • Expensive and time consuming (most rigorous)
  • Relies on hydrologic data, existing ecological research, additional research fieldwork, and modeling (and best professional judgement of experts)
  • Uses low flows, high flow pulses, floods
developing environmental flows a four level approach35
Developing Environmental FlowsA Four Level Approach
  • Level I: Hydrologic Desk Top Method
  • Level II: Experts Workshop
  • Level III: Detailed Instream Flow Studies
  • Level IV: Adaptive Refinement
level iv characteristics
Level IV, Characteristics
  • Operational mode rather than a separate “Level”
  • Improves input to decision making
  • Acknowledges uncertainty (even in Level III)
  • Requires monitoring, with periodic review and refinement as needed (~5 years)
developing environmental flows summary of a four level approach
Developing Environmental FlowsSummary of a Four Level Approach
  • Relies on the best available science
  • Designed to incorporate new knowledge and understanding
  • Recognizes resource constraints
    • different situations require different resources
developing environmental flows a four level approach38
Developing Environmental FlowsA Four Level Approach
  • Level I: Hydrologic Desk Top Method
  • Level II: Experts Workshop
  • Level III: Detailed Instream Flow Studies
  • Level IV: Adaptive Refinement