Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project


Impacts of Surface Water Supply Reservoirs on Stream Flow and Biota

March 2012 - June 2020


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • US Geological Survey
  • University of Massachusetts Commonwealth Honors College
  • Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Transducer location on Roaring Brook, Whateley, MA

In 2010, the Massachusetts Sustainable Water Management Initiative (SWMI) was created to develop a water allocation program that satisfies human water needs while protecting aquatic ecosystem health. The current framework includes a safe yield approach to allocation, biological categorization of streams using fish communities as a surrogate for aquatic integrity, and streamflow criteria (http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/eea/water/framework-draft-feb03-2012.pdf). The approach for setting streamflow standards was based on estimates of flow alteration indicators (based on groundwater withdrawals and discharges), and relationships between estimated flow alteration and fluvial fish assemblages. Although the SWMI process is continuing with existing data, researchers identified the lack of information about flow alteration due to surface water withdrawals from reservoirs as a major information gap.

The overall goal of this research is to quantify flow alteration due to surface water withdrawals from reservoirs and the relationship between in-stream flow and biotic assemblages downstream of water supply reservoirs. This project involves collecting stream stage, fishes, and macroinvertebrates downstream of water supply reservoirs, and comparing that to non-supply reservoirs and unimpounded streams. We will select streams with similar size watersheds, but varying levels of water withdrawal. Streams will be continuously gaged with pressure transducers, and we will compare actual flows with the monthly withdrawals reported by the water suppliers. We will also investigate relationships between flow and temperature alteration, fish assemblages, and macroinvertebrate assemblages to determine the aspects of the flow and temperature regime that predict biotic assemblages.

Presentations Presentation Date
Richards, T.A., C.R. Smith, and A.H. Roy. 2014. Hydrological impacts of water supply reservoirs in Massachusetts streams. Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, 17-21 August 2014, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014-08-17
Richards, T.A., C.R. Smith, and A.H. Roy. 2014. Hydrological impacts of water supply reservoirs in Massachusetts streams. Annual Meeting of the New England Association of Environmental Biologists, 26-28 March 2014, Burlington, VT. 2014-03-26
Yarra, A.N., T.A. Richards, and A.H. Roy. 2014. Assessing effects of surface water supply reservoirs on stream hydrologic and thermal regimes in Massachusetts. Annual Meeting of the New England Association of Environmental Biologists, 26-28 March 2014, Burlington, VT. 2014-03-26
Roy, A.H., T.A. Richards, C.R. Smith, and A.N. Yarra. 2015. Investigating impacts of impoundments on the hydrology, temperature, and fish assemblages in Massachusetts streams. New England Association of Environmental Biologists, 18-20 March 2015, Bartlett, NH. 2015-03-18
Yarra, A.N., T.A. Richards, and A.H. Roy. 2015. Impacts of thermal and flow alteration on benthic stream macroinvertebrates downstream of surface water reservoirs in Massachusetts. New England Association of Environmental Biologists, 18-20 March 2015, Bartlett, NH. 2015-03-18
Yarra, A.N., T.A. Richards, and A.H. Roy. 2015. Impacts of thermal and flow alteration on benthic stream macroinvertebrates downstream of water supply reservoirs. Annual Meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science, 17-21 May 2015, Milwaukee, WI. 2015-05-18