Science to inform restoration:effects of channel reconstruction on hydraulic EXCHANGE and baseflow generation
Channel restoration is increasingly being considered as a tool to enhance late-season flows by modifying the storage and exchange capacities of streams and their adjacent alluvial aquifers. Faced with unpredictable changes in water availability due to climate change, scientists, government agencies and natural resource managers have begun to view restoration as a mitigation tool, enhancing the adaptability and resiliency of aquatic resources. However, the influence of channel and riparian zone restoration on hydrologic function has not been well characterized.
Christine Brissette, a graduate student at the University of Montana, is studying the effect of channel reconstruction on hydraulic exchange, storage and baseflow generation processes. This is a critical first step towards understanding the efficacy of restoration in degraded watersheds and identifying how restoration may improve late season flows in the context of a changing climate and increased demands for water resources.