Study reshapes understanding of how to manage stream flows to protect ecological health

Posted February 4, 2022

SCCWRP and its partners have completed a two-year study that has helped reshape understanding of how to manage stream flow patterns in California to optimally protect overall ecological health.

The study, published in January by the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science, found that the health of stream ecosystems is more affected by the seasonal timing of flows than by the total annual volume of these flows.

The study’s findings run contrary to California’s traditional flow management paradigm, which emphasizes ensuring streams receive appropriate minimum flow allocations over the course of the year – but does not emphasize ensuring these streams receive appropriate season-specific flows, including dry-season base flows and fall pulse flows.

By analyzing the relationship between season-specific flow patterns and the health of aquatic life in streams across California, researchers were able to show that the season-dependent timing of flows is more important than overall flow volume for protecting stream health.

More news related to: Bioassessment, Ecohydrology