Ecological Considerations for Reservoir Planning in North Georgia
Freeman, Mary C.
Merrill, Michael D.
Freeman, Byron J.
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Plans to construct new reservoirs, primarily for municipal water supply, are multiplying as our population struggles to keep up with increasing water demands. Ecological impacts of new reservoirs in north Georgia potentially include habitat loss and population fragmentation of aquatic species already restricted within their historic ranges, and effects of hydrologic alteration on downstream habitat and water quality. These effects are most appropriately assessed at the scale of basins and landscapes. Effective basin-level planning, which should address natural resource conservation goals as well as human consumption needs, will require answers to specific questions regarding effects of alternative strategies for developing water supply through impoundments. Primary issues include: stream prioritization as an approach for conserving imperiled species and water quality in downstream systems; fragmentation effects on fauna, and relative influences of impoundments placed on high- and low-order streams; and feasibility and ecological effectiveness of ameliorating hydrologic alteration caused by impoundments. Research on stream faunal and water quality patterns in the existing landscape, in conjunction with pre- and post-construction monitoring of stream communities above and below impoundments that are already approved, would provide essential information to support effective planning.