Projects of stream restoration are a known Best Management Practice (BMP) to approach stormwater management, and have been adopted globally as a means of improving local hydrology. Urbanization has led to an increase in impervious surfaces, resulting in deteriorated streams, many of which are subject to stream restoration. Stormwater control measures (SCM), such as stream restoration, are considered to be a subset of green infrastructure as a method to reconnect streams with surrounding riparian areas, revitalize original hydrology, and support the local ecosystems. This paper looks into the viability of stream restoration as a way of improving water quality, focusing on Little Westham Creek (LWC) in Richmond, VA. LWC is a tributary into the James River, and part of the greater Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Four metrics were used to analyze the outcome of this restoration: nutrient level measurements, Bank Erosion Hazard Index (BEHI), and fish and benthic macroinvertebrate sampling. The Before-After Control-Impact (BACI) method was used to evaluate data pre- and post-restoration. It was found that concentrations of nutrients may decrease along the reach of the stream, and there is substantial variation in organism populations comparing pre- and post-restoration. It is estimated that the BEHI will produce indices indicating lower risk of erosion post-restoration. While not completely conclusive, these data support the idea that improved water quality is one of many outcomes of stream restoration.
Paper prepared for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar.
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Todd Lookingbill
George, Emily. "Stream Restoration as a Method of Improving Local Water Quality." Paper for Environmental Studies Senior Seminar, University of Richmond, April 2020.