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Applying indicators of hydrologic alteration to Texas streams: overview of methods with examples from the Trinity River basin

Fact Sheet 128-03

In cooperation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
By:

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Abstract

Streamflow is a component of aquatic ecosystem health, and long-term alteration of streamflow characteristics can produce large changes in aquatic ecosystem structure and function. The physical, chemical, and biological properties of aquatic ecosystems are all affected by the magnitude and frequency of streamflow. For example, the physical structure (hydrogeomorphology) of aquatic habitats is a property of the interaction between streamflow magnitude and frequency and the physical landscape (Leopold and others, 1992). Chemical processes are affected by changes in water residence time, which is a function of streamflow. Similarly, the structure and function of biological communities associated with stream ecosystems depend in large part on the hydrologic regime (Poff and Ward, 1989, 1990; Sparks, 1992). Within-year variation in streamflow is essential to the survival, growth, and reproduction of aquatic species. Altering streamflow magnitude and frequency and within-year variability has the potential to modify critical aspects of the physical habitat (Bain and others, 1988).

Documenting the degree to which streamflow has been modified by the cumulative effects of water development is critical to assessing aquatic ecosystem health. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, conducted a study of the application of the Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration (IHA) methods developed by Richter and others (1996, 1997) to identify streams at risk for biological impairment from the loss of streamflow-dependent habitat. This report provides a brief overview of selected IHA methods for assessing hydrologic alteration; presents examples that illustrate the application of the methods using streamflow data from a subset of USGS stations in the Trinity River Basin, Texas, analyzed in the study; and addresses applicability of the methods statewide.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Applying indicators of hydrologic alteration to Texas streams: overview of methods with examples from the Trinity River basin
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
128-03
Year Published:
2003
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Texas Water Science Center
Description:
HTML document; Report: 6 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Texas
Other Geospatial:
Trinity River basin