|Abstract:||Streamflow characteristics and methods for determining streamflow requirements for habitat protection were investigated at 23 active index streamflow-gaging stations in southern New England. Fish communities sampled near index streamflow-gaging stations in Massachusetts have a high percentage of fish that require flowing-water habitats for some or all of their life cycle. The relatively unaltered flow condition at these sites was assumed to be one factor that has contributed to this condition.
Monthly flow durations and low flow statistics were determined for the index streamflow-gaging stations for a 25-year period from 1976 to 2000. Annual hydrographs were prepared for each index station from median streamflows at the 50-percent monthly flow duration, normalized by drainage area. A median monthly flow of 1 ft3/s/mi2 was used to split hydrographs into a high-flow period (November?May), and a low-flow period (June?October). The hydrographs were used to classify index stations into groups with similar median monthly flow durations. Index stations were divided into four regional groups, roughly paralleling the coast, to characterize streamflows for November to May; and into two groups, on the basis of base-flow index and percentage of sand and gravel in the contributing area, for June to October.
For the June to October period, for index stations with a high base-flow index and contributing areas greater than 20 percent sand and gravel, median streamflows at the 50-percent monthly flow duration, normalized by drainage area, were 0.57, 0.49, and 0.46 ft3/s/mi2 for July, August, and September, respectively. For index stations with a low base-flow index
and contributing areas less than 20 percent sand and gravel, median streamflows at the 50-percent monthly flow duration, normalized by drainage area, were 0.34, 0.28, and 0.27 ft3/s/mi2 for July, August, and September, respectively. Streamflow variability between wet and dry years can be characterized by use of the interquartile range of median streamflows at selected monthly flow durations. For example, the median Q50 discharge for August had an interquartile range of 0.30 to 0.87 ft3/s/mi2 for the high-flow group and 0.16 to 0.47 ft3/s/mi2 for the
Streamflow requirements for habitat protection were determined for 23 index stations by use of three methods based on hydrologic records, the Range of Variability Approach, the Tennant method, and the New England Aquatic-Base-Flow method. Normalized flow management targets determined by the Range of Variability Approach for July, August, and September ranged between 0.21 and 0.84 ft3/s/mi2 for the low monthly flow duration group, and 0.37 and 1.27 ft3/s/mi2 for the high monthly flow duration group. Median streamflow requirements for habitat protection during summer for the 23 index streamflow-gaging stations determined by the Tennant method, normalized by drainage area, were 0.81, 0.61, and 0.21 ft3/s/mi2 for the Tennant 40-, 30-, and 10-percent of the mean annual flow methods, representing good, fair, and poor stream habitat conditions in summer, according to Tennant. New England Aquatic-Base-Flow streamflow requirements for habitat protection during summer were determined from median of monthly mean flows for August for index streamflow-gaging stations having drainage areas greater than 50 mi2. For five index streamflow-gaging stations in the low median monthly flow group, the average median monthly mean streamflow for August, normalized by drainage area, was 0.48 ft3/s/mi2.
Streamflow requirements for habitat protection were determined for riffle habitats near 10 index stations by use of two methods based on hydraulic ratings, the Wetted-Perimeter and R2Cross methods. Hydraulic parameters required by these methods were simulated by calibrated HEC-RAS models. Wetted-Perimeter streamflow requirements for habitat protection, normalized by drainage area, ranged between 0.13 and 0.58 ft3/s/mi2, and ha