Specifying Water Flow Requirements to Support River Health
Meyer, Judy L.
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Water managers, scientists and conservationists around the world are now exploring ways to meet human needs for water while keeping river ecosystems healthy. This requires identifying the amount and timing of water flows that must remain in rivers to sustain their ecological health. This is a challenging scientific endeavor, because river flow influences a large variety of plants and animals living in the river and in floodplain or estuarine areas. River flows shape their habitats both directly and indirectly, because water flows influence water quality and temperature, the physical character of a river and its floodplain, and interactions among species. Thus, the process of developing flow recommendations requires input from scientists of many disciplines. This paper provides an overview of a consensus-building process designed to produce an inter-disciplinary recommendation for river flow management that is being applied on the Savannah River below Thurmond Dam as a test case.
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