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Development of Stream Assessment Tools and Riparian Corridor Techniques for Enhancing Water Quality in Karst Watersheds in Central Kentucky
Agouridis, C. T., R.C. Warner
Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Assessment Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Tracking and Implementation System (ATTAINS), agriculture has been identified as a significant pollutant source for lakes, ponds and reservoirs with such water bodies exhibiting elevated levels of nutrients, organic enrichment, and sediment, plus it is the leading cause of impairment for assessed rivers and streams largely due to high levels of pathogens, sediment and nutrients; altered channel morphology; and loss of riparian habitat (Clark 1998; Belsky, Matzke et al. 1999; CAST 2002; Agouridis, Edwards et al. 2005; Agouridis, Workman et al. 2005; USEPA 2009).
This topic is especially important to Kentucky which has nearly 89,000 miles of streams and rivers (only exceeded by Alaska), rolling pastures, and karst geology thus making the potential for damage to riparian ecosystems from agricultural activities (e.g. uncontrolled grazing) quite high. Watershed managers and other such stakeholders need information pertaining to methods to protect and enhance streams and riparian corridors as well as tools to aid in stream and riparian assessments (e.g. departure analysis) and restoration designs when damage has occurred, particularly in karst areas where surface and ground waters are so closely linked.
Within central Kentucky, awareness of stream and riparian health is high due to events such as the Consent Decree between Lexington Fayette Urban County Government and the U.S. EPA and the Alltech World Equestrian Games.
This project will provide much needed scientific and educational information on methods to assess, protect and restore riparian ecosystems and will serve as a catalyst for federal, state, and local restoration efforts. Such information includes regional curve and hydraulic geometry curve development; use of weep berms for nitrogen removal; evaluation of use of stream restoration to improve water quality on a small spring-fed stream; streambank erosion prediction curve development; and evaluation of effectiveness of exclusion fencing on streambank erosion reduction on a small spring-fed stream.
2011 Project Description
Part 1 All data have been collected and analyzed. Results have been presented in two refereed journal articles and one conference. Consultation was given to personnel at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Services (KDFWR) Wetland and Stream Mitigation Program regarding the results of this project and how it may impact their program. Consultation was provided to local engineering design firms specializing in stream restoration.
Project results have been used in the graduate-level course BAE 532/CE 542 Introduction to Stream Restoration to develop a lecture on regional and hydraulic geometry curves. The project resulted in the graduation of one Master's level student. Project results have been primarily disseminated through two refereed journal articles and a conference presentation.
Results have also been discussed with KDFWR personnel and consulting firms.
Part 2 The following data has been collected and analyzed: GIS, soil chemistry, soil permeability, and topographic survey. The weep berms have been designed and constructed. All monitoring equipment has been installed. Grab samples have been and are continuing to be collected up-gradient of the weep berms during runoff producing events. Soil water samples and pressures are collected bi-weekly. Water quality data analysis is on-going. Results of prior rainfall simulation experiment on traditional weep-berm were re-analyzed and published. Rainfall simulators and test plots (30) have been reconstructed for experiments.
Advising of one Master's level student who is working on the project. Prior rainfall simulation study results were disseminated through refereed journal article.
Part 3 Topographic and geomorphic data have been collected and analyzed. Soil samples have been collected and analyzed. Grab samples have been collected upstream and downstream of project reach, when water has been present. A stream restoration design has been completed. Required federal, state and local permits have been acquired. Contractor has been identified and retained. No events yet as construction has not begun due to weather delays. Stream restoration design plan. Plans presented in livestock BMP workshop.
Part 4 All geomorphic data have been collected and analyzed. Sites have been photo-documented. Composite soil samples have been collected and analyzed. Preliminary curves have been developed. Results were used to help develop the Watershed Based Plan for the Cane Run (deliverable for a 319(h) grant). Undergraduate and graduate students were trained in geomorphic surveying. Preliminary bank erosion curves. Cane Run Watershed Based Plan (product for U.S. EPA and Kentucky Division of Water).
Part 5 All cross-sectional survey data have been collected and analyzed. Results have been presented in one refereed journal article (in review) and extension publications and workshops.
Regional Curves and Hydraulic Geometry Curves
Change in Knowledge: First published (refereed) regional and hydraulic geometry curves for Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Results of curves have been presented to KDFWR and local consulting firms. Results have been and will continue to be presented to undergraduate- and graduate-level students through BAE 532/CE 542 Introduction to Stream Restoration.
Change in Actions: These curves will be useful in the assessment and design of stream restoration projects within the Bluegrass Region.
Change in Condition: These curves can improve stream assessments (e.g. identification of bankfull), stream designs, and stream restoration project monitoring within the Bluegrass Region.
Horse Composting, Riparian Buffers and Weep Berms
Change in Knowledge: Project is still undergoing testing and evaluation, but results could produce new BMP for protection of streams from non-point source run-off.
Stream Restoration and Water Quality
Change in Knowledge: Project is still undergoing testing and evaluation, but results could demonstrate how restoration of small agricultural streams could improve water quality.
Streambank Erosion Prediction Curves
Change in Knowledge: Project is still undergoing testing and evaluation, but results will be useful in assessing streambank erosion rates and prioritizing BMP implementation. This project will result in the first published set of streambank erosion prediction curves for the Bluegrass Region.
Exclusion Fencing and Streambank Erosion
Change in Knowledge: Results of this project will be disseminated in a refereed journal article. Results are presented to livestock producers, conservation district personnel, NRCS personnel, etc. through extension publications and a workshop related to livestock impacts on streams. The project results indicate that livestock producers should fence cattle out of streams and install off-stream water sources.
Change in Actions: Some livestock producers are starting to fence cattle out of streams, install stream crossing, and install off-stream waterers.
Change in Condition: None yet documented, but it is anticipated that changes in actions will lead to improve stream water quality and reduced streambank erosion.
Agouridis, C.T., Brockman, R.A., Workman, S.R., Ormsbee, L., and Fogle, A.W. (2011). Bankfull Hydraulic Geometry Relationships for the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Water, 3: 923-948.
Brockman, R.A., Agouridis, C.T., Workman, S.R., Ormsbee, L., and Fogle, A.W. (2011). Bankfull Regional Curves for the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (in press).
Barnett, J.R., Warner, R.C., Agouridis, C.T., and Edwards, D.R. (2010). Ability of a Weep Berm to Enhance Grass Filter Performance in a Simulated Grazed System: Preliminary Results. Natural and Environmental Sciences, 1(1): 12-20.
Higgins, S.F., Wightman, S.J., and C.T. Agouridis. (2011). Pasture Feeding, Streamside Grazing, and the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension: AEN-105.
Higgins, S.F., Agouridis, C.T., and Wightman, S.J. (2011). Stream Crossings for Cattle. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service: AEN-101.