Special Issue "A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Aquatic Systems—Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Theodore Endreny
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Resources Engineering, SUNY ESF, Syracuse, NY, USA
Interests: hydrology; forests; rivers; rainfall-runoff modeling; stormwater management; urban climate change adaptation; ecosystem functions; sustainable development
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

River and river basin restoration faces significant challenges: a) the restoration target is often unknown, and is not likely an initial or completely natural state, which remains poorly understood; b) restoration structures should provide multiple functions to benefit humans and biodiversity; c) restoration scale and complexity should consider local to basin-level issues; and d) restoration resiliency should handle uncertain future drivers and beneficiaries of river and river basin health. A strategy to restore dynamic and complex river and river basin ecosystems involves a systems approach. Based on a United Nations review of needs for river and river basin restoration, this Special Issue solicits contributions that advance knowledge in the following systems approach topics: 1) identifying, understanding, and working with the catchment and riverine physical, chemical and biological processes comprising river basin and river health and delivering ecosystem services; 2) identifying, incorporating, and involving socio-economic values and broader planning and development activities linked to river basin and river health; 3) addressing structure and function relationships at the appropriate scales to address limiting factors to river health; 4) setting clear, achievable, and measurable goals, framed (as much as possible) in terms of changes to ecosystem structure and function, the provisioning of ecosystem services and, where feasible, socioeconomic factors; 5) planning, implementing, and managing to provide resilience to a range of scenarios over time, including changes to climate, land use, hydrology, pollutant loads, and population, so restoration outcomes are sustained over the long term; 6) involving all relevant stakeholders in an integrated approach, addressing land and water issues, and involving interagency and community collaboration, to achieve the greatest benefits; and 7) monitoring, evaluating, adapting, and reporting evidence of river and river basin health, relative to goals, to guide restoration and adaptive management.

Prof. Theodore Endreny
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • integrated watershed management
  • landscape design
  • water and terrestrial ecosystems
  • eco-hydrology
  • structure function relationships
  • surface water and groundwater interactions
  • ecosystem services

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Leverage Points Used in a Systems Approach of River and River Basin Restoration
Water 2020, 12(9), 2606; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092606 - 18 Sep 2020
Viewed by 490
Abstract
River basins are complex spatiotemporal systems, and too often, restoration efforts are ineffective due to a lack of understanding of the purpose of the system, defined by the system structure and function. The river basin system structure includes stocks (e.g., water volume or [...] Read more.
River basins are complex spatiotemporal systems, and too often, restoration efforts are ineffective due to a lack of understanding of the purpose of the system, defined by the system structure and function. The river basin system structure includes stocks (e.g., water volume or quality), inflows (e.g., precipitation or fertilization), outflows (e.g., evaporation or runoff), and positive and negative feedback loops with delays in responsiveness, that all function to change or stabilize the state of the system (e.g., the stock of interest, such as water level or quality). External drivers on this structure, together with goals and rules, contribute to how a river basin functions. This article reviews several new research projects to identify and rank the twelve most effective leverage points to address discrepancies between the desired and actual state of the river basin system. This article demonstrates river basin restoration is most likely to succeed when we change paradigms rather than trying to change the system elements, as the paradigm will establish the system goals, structure, rules, delays, and parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Flood Mapping Uncertainty from a Restoration Perspective: A Practical Case Study
Water 2020, 12(7), 1948; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12071948 - 09 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 709
Abstract
Many hydrologic studies that are the basis for water resources planning and management rely on streamflow information. Calibration and use of hydrologic models to extend flow series based on rainfall data, perform flood frequency analysis, or develop flood maps for land use planning [...] Read more.
Many hydrologic studies that are the basis for water resources planning and management rely on streamflow information. Calibration and use of hydrologic models to extend flow series based on rainfall data, perform flood frequency analysis, or develop flood maps for land use planning and design of engineering works, such as channels, dams, bridges, and water intake, are examples of such studies. In most real-world engineering applications, errors in flow data are neglected or not adequately addressed. However, because flows are estimated based on the water level measurements by fitted rating curves, they can be subjected to significant uncertainties. How large these uncertainties are and how they can impact the results of such studies is a topic of interest for researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers of water resources. The quantitative assessment of these uncertainties is important to obtain a more realistic description of many water resources related studies. River restoration in many areas is limited by data availability and funding. A means to assess the uncertainty of flow data to be used in the design and analysis of river restoration projects that is cost effective and has minimal data requirements would greatly improve the reliability of river restoration design. This paper proposes an assessment of how uncertainties related to rating curves and frequency analysis may affect the results of flood mapping in a real-world application to a small watershed with limited data. A Bayesian approach was performed to obtain the posterior distributions for the model parameters and the HEC-RAS (Hydrologic Engineering Center-River Analysis System) hydraulic model was used to propagate the uncertainties in the water surface elevation profiles. The analysis was conducted using freely available data and open source software, greatly reducing traditional analysis costs. The results demonstrate that for the study case the uncertainty related to the frequency analysis study impacted the water profiles more significantly than the uncertainty associated with the rating curve. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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Open AccessArticle
The Straightening of a River Meander Leads to Extensive Losses in Flow Complexity and Ecosystem Services
Water 2020, 12(6), 1680; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061680 - 11 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 837
Abstract
To assist river restoration efforts we need to slow the rate of river degradation. This study provides a detailed explanation of the hydraulic complexity loss when a meandering river is straightened in order to motivate the protection of river channel curvature. We used [...] Read more.
To assist river restoration efforts we need to slow the rate of river degradation. This study provides a detailed explanation of the hydraulic complexity loss when a meandering river is straightened in order to motivate the protection of river channel curvature. We used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling to document the difference in flow dynamics in nine simulations with channel curvature (C) degrading from a well-established tight meander bend (C = 0.77) to a straight channel without curvature (C = 0). To control for covariates and slow the rate of loss to hydraulic complexity, each of the nine-channel realizations had equivalent bedform topography. The analyzed hydraulic variables included the flow surface elevation, streamwise and transverse unit discharge, flow velocity at streamwise, transverse, and vertical directions, bed shear stress, stream function, and the vertical hyporheic flux rates at the channel bed. The loss of hydraulic complexity occurred gradually when initially straightening the channel from C = 0.77 to C = 0.33 (i.e., the radius of the channel is three-times the channel width), and additional straightening incurred rapid losses to hydraulic complexity. Other studies have shown hydraulic complexity provides important riverine habitat and is positively correlated with biodiversity. This study demonstrates how hydraulic complexity can be gradually and then rapidly lost when unwinding a river, and hopefully will serve as a cautionary tale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Effect of Habitat Structure Boulder Spacing on Near-Bed Shear Stress and Turbulent Events in a Gravel Bed Channel
Water 2020, 12(5), 1423; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051423 - 16 May 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 766
Abstract
This study experimentally investigated the effect of boulder spacing and boulder submergence ratio on the near-bed shear stress in a single array of boulders in a gravel bed open channel flume. An acoustic Doppler velocimeter (ADV) was used to measure the instantaneous three-dimensional [...] Read more.
This study experimentally investigated the effect of boulder spacing and boulder submergence ratio on the near-bed shear stress in a single array of boulders in a gravel bed open channel flume. An acoustic Doppler velocimeter (ADV) was used to measure the instantaneous three-dimensional velocity components. Four methods of estimating near-bed shear stress were compared. The results suggested a significant effect of boulder spacing and boulder submergence ratio on the near-bed shear stress estimations and their spatial distributions. It was found that at unsubmerged condition, the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) and modified TKE methods can be used interchangeably to estimate the near-bed shear stress. At both submerged and unsubmerged conditions, the Reynolds method performed differently from the other point-methods. Moreover, a quadrant analysis was performed to examine the turbulent events and their contribution to the near-bed Reynolds shear stress with the effect of boulder spacing. Generally, the burst events (ejections and sweeps) were reduced in the presence of boulders. This study may improve the understanding of the effect of the boulder spacing and boulder submergence ratio on the near-bed shear stress estimations of stream restoration practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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Open AccessArticle
Hydrological Foundation as a Basis for a Holistic Environmental Flow Assessment of Tropical Highland Rivers in Ethiopia
Water 2020, 12(2), 547; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020547 - 15 Feb 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 971
Abstract
The sustainable development of water resources includes retaining some amount of the natural flow regime in water bodies to protect and maintain aquatic ecosystem health and the human livelihoods and wellbeing dependent upon them. Although assessment of environmental flows is now occurring globally, [...] Read more.
The sustainable development of water resources includes retaining some amount of the natural flow regime in water bodies to protect and maintain aquatic ecosystem health and the human livelihoods and wellbeing dependent upon them. Although assessment of environmental flows is now occurring globally, limited studies have been carried out in the Ethiopian highlands, especially studies to understand flow-ecological response relationships. This paper establishes a hydrological foundation of Gumara River from an ecological perspective. The data analysis followed three steps: first, determination of the current flow regime—flow indices and ecologically relevant flow regime; second, naturalization of the current flow regime—looking at how flow regime is changing; and, finally, an initial exploration of flow linkages with ecological processes. Flow data of Gumara River from 1973 to 2018 are used for the analysis. Monthly low flow occurred from December to June; the lowest being in March, with a median flow of 4.0 m3 s−1. Monthly high flow occurred from July to November; the highest being in August, with a median flow of 236 m3 s−1. 1-Day low flows decreased from 1.55 m3 s−1 in 1973 to 0.16 m3 s−1 in 2018, and 90-Day (seasonal) low flow decreased from 4.9 m3 s−1 in 1973 to 2.04 m3 s−1 in 2018. The Mann–Kendall trend test indicated that the decrease in low flow was significant for both durations at α = 0.05. A similar trend is indicated for both durations of high flow. The decrease in both low flows and high flows is attributed to the expansion of pump irrigation by 29 km2 and expansion of plantations, which resulted in an increase of NDVI from 0.25 in 2000 to 0.29 in 2019. In addition, an analysis of environmental flow components revealed that only four “large floods” appeared in the last 46 years; no “large flood” occurred after 1988. Lacking “large floods” which inundate floodplain wetlands has resulted in early disconnection of floodplain wetlands from the river and the lake; which has impacts on breeding and nursery habitat shrinkage for migratory fish species in Lake Tana. On the other hand, the extreme decrease in “low flow” components has impacts on predators, reducing their mobility and ability to access prey concentrated in smaller pools. These results serve as the hydrological foundation for continued studies in the Gumara catchment, with the eventual goal of quantifying environmental flow requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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Open AccessArticle
Dynamic Evapotranspiration Alters Hyporheic Flow and Residence Times in the Intrameander Zone
Water 2020, 12(2), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020424 - 05 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 916
Abstract
Hyporheic zones (HZs) influence biogeochemistry at the local reach scale with potential implication for water quality at the large catchment scale. The characteristics of the HZs (e.g., area, flux rates, and residence times) change in response to channel and aquifer physical properties, as [...] Read more.
Hyporheic zones (HZs) influence biogeochemistry at the local reach scale with potential implication for water quality at the large catchment scale. The characteristics of the HZs (e.g., area, flux rates, and residence times) change in response to channel and aquifer physical properties, as well as to transient perturbations in the stream–aquifer system such as floods and groundwater withdraws due to evapotranspiration (ET) and pumping. In this study, we use a numerical model to evaluate the effects of transient near-stream evapotranspiration (ET) on the area, exchange flux, and residence time (RT) of sinuosity-induced HZs modulated by regional groundwater flow (RGF). We found that the ET fluxes (up to 80 mm/day) consistently increased HZ area and exchange flux, and only increased RTs when the intensity of regional groundwater flow was low. Relative to simulations without ET, scenarios with active ET had more than double HZ area and exchange flux and about 20% longer residence times (as measured by the median of the residence time distribution). Our model simulations show that the drawdown induced by riparian ET increases the net flux of water from the stream to the nearby aquifer, consistent with field observations. The results also suggest that, along with ET intensity, the magnitude of the HZ response is influenced by the modulating effect of both gaining and losing RGF and the sensitivity of the aquifer to daily cycles of ET withdrawal. This work highlights the importance of representing near-stream ET when modeling sinuosity-induced hyporheic zones, as well as the importance of including riparian vegetation in efforts to restore the ecosystem functions of streams. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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Open AccessArticle
An Assessment of Self-Purification in Streams
Water 2020, 12(1), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010087 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 873
Abstract
The territory of Lithuania is characterized by a prevailing moisture excess, therefore in order to timely remove excess water from arable lands, the drainage systems have long been installed. In order to drain excess water people used to dig trenches, to regulate (deepen [...] Read more.
The territory of Lithuania is characterized by a prevailing moisture excess, therefore in order to timely remove excess water from arable lands, the drainage systems have long been installed. In order to drain excess water people used to dig trenches, to regulate (deepen or straighten) natural streams. The length of regulated streams has reached 46,000 km and they are deteriorated ecosystems. Investigations showed that the self-purification of streams from nitrates and phosphates is more effective in natural stretches than in stretches regulated for drainage purposes. Decrease in the average concentration of nitrates in natural and regulated stretches are 8.8 ± 5.0 and 3.0 ± 2.9 mg NO 3 L−1, respectively. The average coefficient of nitrate self-purification, at a confidence level of 95% in natural stream stretches is 0.50 ± 0.22, and in regulated is −0.15 ± 0.21 km−1, and this difference is essential. The change in the average concentration of phosphates in natural and regulated stretches is almost the same, 0.2 ± 0.1 and 0.2 ± 0.2 mg PO 4 3 L−1, respectively. The average coefficient of phosphate self-purification, at a confidence level of 95%, in natural stream stretches is 0.28 ± 0.12, in regulated −0.14 ± 0.12 km−1, and this difference is not essential. In terms of the need for the renovation of drainage systems it is suggested that soft naturalization measures are first applied in the streams of Western (Samogitian) Highlands, Coastal Lowlands, and South-Eastern Highlands to improve their self-purification processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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Open AccessArticle
A New Water Environmental Load and Allocation Modeling Framework at the Medium–Large Basin Scale
Water 2019, 11(11), 2398; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11112398 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 910
Abstract
Waste load allocation (WLA), as a well-known total pollutant control strategy, is designed to distribute pollution responsibilities among polluters to alleviate environmental problems, but the current policy is unfair and limited to single scale or single pollution types. In this paper, a new, [...] Read more.
Waste load allocation (WLA), as a well-known total pollutant control strategy, is designed to distribute pollution responsibilities among polluters to alleviate environmental problems, but the current policy is unfair and limited to single scale or single pollution types. In this paper, a new, alternative, multi-scale, and multi-pollution WLA modeling framework was developed, with a goal of producing optimal and fair allocation quotas at multiple scales. The new WLA modeling framework integrates multi-constrained environmental Gini coefficients (EGCs) and Delphi-analytic hierarchy process (Delphi-AHP) optimization models to achieve the stated goal. The new WLA modeling framework was applied in a case study in the Xian-jiang watershed in Zhejiang Province, China, in order to test its validity and usefulness. The results, in comparison with existing practices by the local governments, suggest that the simulated pollutant load quota at the watershed scale is much fairer than the existing policies and even has some environmental economic benefits at the pollutant source scale. As the new WLA is a process-based modeling framework, it should be possible to adopt this approach in other similar geographic areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Functional Response to Streamside Fencing of Pastoral Waikato Streams, New Zealand
Water 2019, 11(7), 1347; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071347 - 29 Jun 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 994
Abstract
In New Zealand, streamside fencing is a well-recognised restoration technique for pastoral waterways. However, the response of stream ecosystem function to fencing is not well quantified. We measured the response to fencing of eight variables describing ecosystem function and 11 variables describing physical [...] Read more.
In New Zealand, streamside fencing is a well-recognised restoration technique for pastoral waterways. However, the response of stream ecosystem function to fencing is not well quantified. We measured the response to fencing of eight variables describing ecosystem function and 11 variables describing physical habitat and water quality at 11 paired stream sites (fenced and unfenced) over a 30-year timespan. We hypothesised that (1) fencing would improve the state of stream ecosystem health as described by physical, water quality and functional indicators due to riparian re-establishment and (2) time since fencing would increase the degree of change from impacted to less-impacted as described by physical, water quality and functional indicators. We observed high site-to-site variability in both physical and functional metrics. Stream shade was the only measure that showed a significant difference between treatments with higher levels of shade at fenced than unfenced sites. Cotton tensile-strength loss was the only functional measurement that indicated a response to fencing and increased over time since treatment within fenced sites. Our results suggest that stream restoration by fencing follows a complex pathway, over a space-for-time continuum, illustrating the overarching catchment influence at a reach scale. Small-scale (less than 2% of the upstream catchment area) efforts to fence the riparian zones of streams appear to have little effect on ecosystem function. We suggest that repeated measures of structural and functional indicators of ecosystem health are needed to inform robust assessments of stream restoration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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Open AccessArticle
A River Temperature Model to Assist Managers in Identifying Thermal Pollution Causes and Solutions
Water 2019, 11(5), 1060; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11051060 - 22 May 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1761
Abstract
Thermal pollution of rivers degrades water quality and ecosystem health, and cities can protect rivers by decreasing warmer impervious surface stormwater inflows and increasing cooler subsurface inflows and shading from riparian vegetation. This study develops the mechanistic i-Tree Cool River Model and tests [...] Read more.
Thermal pollution of rivers degrades water quality and ecosystem health, and cities can protect rivers by decreasing warmer impervious surface stormwater inflows and increasing cooler subsurface inflows and shading from riparian vegetation. This study develops the mechanistic i-Tree Cool River Model and tests if it can be used to identify likely causes and mitigation of thermal pollution. The model represents the impacts of external loads including solar radiation in the absence of riparian shade, multiple lateral storm sewer inflows, tributaries draining reservoirs, groundwater flow, and hyporheic exchange flow in dry weather steady flows and wet weather unsteady flows. The i-Tree Cool River Model estimates the shading effects of the riparian vegetation and other features as a function of heights and distances as well as solar geometry. The model was tested along 1500 m of a New York mountain river with a riparian forest and urban areas during 30 h with two summer storm events in 2007. The simulations were sensitive to the inflows of storm sewers, subsurface inflows, as well as riparian shading, and upstream boundary temperature inflows for steady and unsteady conditions. The model simulated hourly river temperature with an R2 of 0.98; when shading was removed from the simulation the R2 decreased 0.88, indicating the importance of riparian shading in river thermal modeling. When stormwater inflows were removed from the simulation, the R2 decreased from 0.98 to 0.92, and when subsurface inflows were removed, the R2 decreased to 0.94. The simulation of thermal loading is important to manage against pollution of rivers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Systems Approach for River and River Basin Restoration)
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