Back to top

SFS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, June 4, 2024
15:00 - 16:30

<< Back to Schedule

S24 New Approaches and Methods for Understanding and Improving Urban Waterways: A Global Perspective

15:30 - 15:45 | Independence Ballroom A | WORCESTER MA'S BLACKSTONE RIVER AND INDUSTRIAL LEGACY EFFECTS: A HOMAGE TO APOLLO CREED

6/04/2024  |   15:30 - 15:45   |  Independence Ballroom A

Worcester MA's Blackstone River and Industrial Legacy Effects: A Homage to Apollo Creed The American Industrial Revolution was powered by New England rivers. Worcester, MA, an inland city, is located over 100 km west of Boston, MA and 100 km north of Providence, RI. Despite this seemingly geographic limitation, the city emerged as a hub for urban development, attracted diverse industries and workers, and produced pivotal technologies due to its cultural and geographic relationship with the Blackstone River. The river’s forested headwaters provide high water quality and predictable annual discharge regimes, thus allowing the industrial riparian zone to extend south through Rhode Island with a final destination of Narragansett Bay. The Blackstone River was “the hardest working river in the world” during the initial industrial revolution for about 20 years. Here we describe the Blackstone River’s biogeochemistry, community ecology, hydrology, and restoration initiatives at the watershed scale. We also share recent education and community-based learning initiatives at College of the Holy Cross and the larger Worcester community that may be strategically adapted for other inland rivers with industrial legacies. Urban rivers and watersheds are under-appreciated and under-valued.

William Sobczak (Primary Presenter/Author), College of the Holy Cross, wsobczak@holycross.edu;

15:45 - 16:00 | Independence Ballroom A | PHYTO-REMEDIATION AND STORMWATER TREATMENT THROUGH WATER SENSITIVE URBAN DESIGN: A PILOT STUDY

6/04/2024  |   15:45 - 16:00   |  Independence Ballroom A

Phyto-remediation and stormwater treatment through water sensitive urban design: A pilot study Contaminants in urban stormwater negatively impact aquatic ecosystems and potentially pose threats to public health. Managing surface flow from impervious surfaces is a particular challenge, as this often contains contaminants associated with vehicles, organic material and suspended solids, and can exhibit high concentrations of metals, nutrients and hydrocarbons. Phyto-remediation processes, whereby plants can remove harmful compounds from surrounding environments, can serve as valuable stormwater treatment methods. Our trial project, undertaken in partnership with ACT Government, Canberra, Australia assesses the performance of purpose-built garden beds in treating stormwater. Underground plastic cells were installed to store stormwater, increasing the residence time in contact with the root zone of trees planted in the overlying bed. A ‘control-impact’ study design, comparing the treatment garden bed to traditional designs was implemented monitoring water quality, micro-climate and tree condition. Early stage results showed highly variable water quality outcomes from the beds. No effects on microclimate were observed but were also recorded over an atypically wet climatic period. Trees in the treatment bed exhibited higher leaf chlorophyll content and carbon accrual, indicating better condition than the equivalent trees in the traditional garden beds. By understanding the effects of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) infrastructure we can provide recommendations for future WSUD projects and facilitate the modification of existing infrastructure in aging cities for ecological and social benefit.

Isobel Walcott (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Canberra, isobel.walcott@canberra.edu.au;

Angus MacDonald (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Canberra, gus.macdonald@canberra.ed.au;

Ross M. Thompson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Centre for Applied Water Science, University of Canberra, ross.thompson@canberra.edu.au;

16:00 - 16:15 | Independence Ballroom A | CAN NEW STORMWATER BMPS IN A REDEVELOPED SITE IMPROVE BIOLOGICAL INTEGRITY IN A DEGRADED URBANIZED STREAM? RESULTS OF A BACI STUDY CONDUCTED IN SOUTHEASTERN PA

6/04/2024  |   16:00 - 16:15   |  Independence Ballroom A

CAN NEW STORMWATER BMPS IN A REDEVELOPED SITE IMPROVE BIOLOGICAL INTEGRITY IN A DEGRADED URBANIZED STREAM? RESULTS OF A BACI STUDY CONDUCTED IN SOUTHEASTERN PA An important tool for mitigating urbanization impacts on aquatic resources and ecosystems is the control of stormwater using best management practices (BMPs). Watershed restoration science and accompanying stormwater regulations have made substantial progress over the last few decades. This investigation used a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) study design to test the effectiveness of implementing new BMPs (and related stormwater control regulations) on improving biological integrity of an impacted stream (Chrome Run) along with three nearby control streams. The Chrome Run watershed is highly impervious, and a substantial portion was redeveloped beginning in 2016. Newly constructed BMPs were operational at the redeveloped site by late 2018. We collected fish at sites in the four watersheds annually (2016-2021) and benthic macroinvertebrates tri-annually (2018-2021). Analyses of numerous benthic and fish community metrics over time (BACI) using full- factorial two-way ANOVAs found virtually no significant evidence of biological integrity improvement in Chrome Run. A nearby high- quality stream periodically introduced less tolerant invertebrates to Chrome Run, but self- sustaining populations did not establish in the stream. We conclude that improvement in BMP technology cannot compensate for insufficient stormwater regulation. If improvements in watershed protection in urban environment are sought, action is needed to upgrade existing stormwater control regulations. This becomes even more urgent given the context of increasing urbanization and climate change.

Stanley Kemp (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Baltimore, skemp@ubalt.edu;

Lesmes A. M. Jerez (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Florida International University, lmorajer@fiu.edu;

Virginia Smith (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Villanova University, virginia.smith@villanova.edu;

Andrea Welker (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), The College of New Jersey, welkera@tcnj.edu;

16:15 - 16:30 | Independence Ballroom A | EVALUATING THE ECOLOGICAL SUCCESS OF LARGE-SCALE RIVER RESTORATION

6/04/2024  |   16:15 - 16:30   |  Independence Ballroom A

EVALUATING THE ECOLOGICAL SUCCESS OF LARGE-SCALE RIVER RESTORATION Rivers are among the most anthropogenically altered ecosystems on the planet and impacts to rivers in urban landscapes can be particularly acute. Massive restoration projects are underway across the globe to mitigate undesired impacts. Surprisingly little research, however, has explored the effects of these endeavors in a scientifically defensible fashion. Here, we evaluate the effectiveness of river restoration in the highly urbanized Clinton River watershed in Southeast Michigan (USA), by comparing four restored stream reaches, four unrestored reaches, and four less impacted reaches. Restoration activities included bank stabilization, in-stream-habitat enhancements, and riparian plantings with native vegetation. We evaluated habitat indices, macroinvertebrate communities, periphyton abundance, and organic-matter decomposition rates in each stream. We found little difference among the biotic variables examined, while habitat indices determined physical habitat heterogeneity were greater in the restored reaches and unimpacted reaches relative to degraded reaches. These results suggest that despite considerable efforts that were successful at improving river habitats, these restoration activities, totaling over $40 million in expense in the Clinton River Watershed, had little measurable impacts on key facets of river ecosystems including macroinvertebrate and organic-matter decomposition. Watershed wide characteristics such as urbanization and degraded water quality may be limiting factors to ecosystem responses to physical restoration.

Eric Diesing (Primary Presenter/Author), Oakland University, eddiesin@oakland.edu;

Scott Tiegs (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Oakland University, tiegs@oakland.edu;

Thomas Raffel (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Oakland University, raffel@oakland.edu;

Paul Seelbach (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), US Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center, pseelbach@usgs.gov;

16:30 - 16:45 | Independence Ballroom A | VERTEBRATE COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO REGENERATIVE STREAM CONVEYANCE (RSC) RESTORATION

6/04/2024  |   16:30 - 16:45   |  Independence Ballroom A

VERTEBRATE COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO REGENERATIVE STREAM CONVEYANCE (RSC) RESTORATION This study addresses the question of expected trajectories of vertebrate communities (fish and herpetofauna) after degraded streams are restored as Regenerative Stream Conveyances (RSCs) or stream-wetland complexes. We defined the possible trajectories as (1) degraded condition and (2) minimally-disturbed reference conditions typical of single-thread streams and stream-wetland complexes for Coastal Plain aquatic vertebrate communities, using a literature review and Maryland Biological Stream Survey data. We then conducted sampling and compared results for 11 streams converted to RSCs (2 to 17 years post-construction) to 8 references in each of three types: low-quality single streams, high-quality single streams, and high-quality stream-wetlands. In general, post-construction RSC fish communities were more similar to low-quality single streams than to high-quality single streams or stream-wetland complexes. Fish diversity in RSCs was lower than in high-quality sites and decreased in RSC restorations with higher conductivity and lower dissolved oxygen. Sensitive fish species found in high-quality reference sites were absent from RSCs and low-quality sites. Fish indices of biotic integrity (IBIs) were also lower in RSCs than in high-quality reference sites. While RSCs recreated the physical habitat conditions typical of high-order stream wetland complexes in low-order reaches, they did not attain the levels of dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and flow found in high-quality sites. Herpetofauna diversity showed few patterns between RSCs and reference types, except for higher frog abundance in RSCs than references. Results are applicable to setting realistic expectations of biological response when degraded lowland streams are converted to RSCs.

Nancy Roth (Primary Presenter/Author), Tetra Tech, nancy.roth@tetratech.com;

Mark Southerland (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Tetra Tech, mark.southerland@tetratech.com;

Robert Murphy (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Tetra Tech, bob.murphy@tetratech.com;

Ryan Woodland (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, woodland@umces.edu;

Solange Filoso (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, filoso@umces.edu;