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Truckee River Symposium 2011, Sept. 27-29, 2011

Save the Date! September 27-29, 2011 at DRI.The purpose of this symposium is to communicate, investigate and evaluate science along the river.

Discussions will provide an understanding of Truckee River's important role in supporting northern Nevada and eastern California, while serving as a valuable resource to others who utilize the river. One element of this program is to provide all groups who work within the watershed a comprehensive understanding of what their colleagues are doing, and to bring critical Truckee River issues to the table for discussion. Drought, water quality, water resources, technical considerations and ecological elements will be discussed, with a mix of research, environmental, management and recreational perspectives included.

Post-Restoration Water-Quality Monitoring: Tracking aquatic habitat improvements

September 2008 issue, The Stormwater Newsletter
By Dan Smith

The Pacific Northwest and the Puget Sound have witnessed a steady onslaught of urbanization during the last century, with the most rapid development occurring from the 1950s to the present. Partnered with human daily activity, widespread urbanization has negatively affected the attributes of most of the region’s aquatic ecosystems.

As large-scale watershed alterations have advanced, the stability and quality of local stream and riparian environs has degraded. The magnitude and frequency of high flows has increased, habitat has disappeared, sedimentation has escalated, and pollutant levels continue to grow. As a result, the magnificent and diverse floral and faunal populations of the Puget Sound, especially native salmon, have become at risk.

Since incorporation in 1990, the city of Federal Way, WA, has completed a number of projects designed to counteract the extensive changes that have affected West Hylebos Creek, an important small stream in the Central Puget Sound that once yielded healthy and plentiful salmon runs. Improvements have included a series of regional stormwater detention facility installations, wetlands rehabilitation, and stream restoration projects that were designed to be consistent with the principal goal outlined in the city’s Surface Water Management Plan: “To protect, preserve, and enhance the beneficial uses of surface water for recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, aesthetic enjoyment, aquifer recharge, and open space.”

The city has long recognized the critical connection between riparian characteristics and watershed habitat conditions, and it continues to seek local aquatic ecosystem improvements. In 2004, the city pursued a golden opportunity—the Surface Water Management (SWM) division applied for and was awarded a State of Washington Department of Ecology Centennial Clean Water Fund Grant to fund an innovative restoration project targeting the West Hylebos Creek.

Initiated in 2003, the project was designed to prevent further stream degradation in this altered drainage basin where historical high-energy flows caused severe erosion of the streambed and streambanks. The ambitious undertaking included efforts to address adverse changes that resulted in extensive sediment and gravel transportation, localized flooding, loss of wetland function, and degraded aquatic habitat.

The project also involved a stratagem for ongoing water-quality monitoring with a comprehensive plan modeled to measure the restoration’s effectiveness in reducing pollutant loadings. The essential question being asked was “Will restoration of the stream improve both water quality and aquatic habitat as desired?”

Paul Bucich, surface water manager, addresses the issue by commenting, “Too often a restoration project is constructed and then all the participants from the designers to the permit writers pat each other on the backs, congratulate each other, and then move on without another backward glance—never to learn if the project was a success.” He continues, “With this project, we had the opportunity to partner with a state resource agency to study the long-term effects of our work. Unlike many monitoring efforts, this one had a well-defined question we could craft a monitoring effort around.”

Municipal In-Stream Monitoring

Stormwater E-magazine, September 2008 edition
Accountability in comprehensive sampling
By Lanse Norris

“Water is the one substance from which the earth can conceal nothing; it sucks out its innermost secrets and brings them to our very lips.”
—Jean Giraudoux

What Comprises Comprehensive Sampling?
Since the early ’70s, Cobb County, GA’s municipal in-stream monitoring efforts have evolved into a program that conducts sampling across 21 sub-watersheds at 93 chemical sites per quarter, 24 macroinvertebrate sites per year, 24 habitat assessment sites biannually, and 24 fish sites every five years. Sites were selected considering land use, proximity to industries, and stream confluences of representative reaches.

The chemical data generate a water quality index (WQI) score derived from comparing the value for any parameter of interest with values for the same available parameter from sampling results recorded throughout the Atlanta region. The index itself is a value between 0.00 and 1.00, with 0.00 representing the best value in the database for each parameter. Table 1 shows the Cobb Stream Monitoring Program chemical data for an actual site with each parameter and applicable scores. The aggregate WQI for the site is calculated as the numeric average of the available WQIs shown.

Biological sampling produces macroinvertebrate and fish data, which are scored on an index of biotic integrity (IBI). Habitat assessments are scored on a standardized form following state of Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) protocol.
A Cobb County Water System Watershed Monitoring Program Annual Report is published containing all of the chemical, biological, and habitat data collected; many permits addressing surface waters impacted by wastewater discharge, stormwater, point and non-point sources are maintained by the data. In the report, narratives for each site summarize a year’s worth of changes to the stream channel, riparian zone, and watershed itself as personnel wade upstream and drive through the watershed on the way to each site.

How Comprehensive Is It?
Ions in the Stream. Chemical monitoring parameters and methods are long-established water-quality standards prescribed by the approved 20th edition of Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater (Clesceri et al. 1998) and are implicit in environmental regulatory sampling like National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wet-weather ambient trend monitoring. Cobb County Stream Monitoring personnel take extra measures to ensure accuracy and integrity. For example, rather than rely on precarious dissolved oxygen (DO) meter readings, Winkler titration method dissolved oxygen samples are “fixed” in the field for more consistent and accurate analysis by Cobb’s Georgia Association of Water Professionals certified wastewater laboratory. Quality-control samples are collected at the first site for a given stream, and all samples are collected mid-depth in representative flow when possible and preserved in the field before transportation to the laboratory. Field notes supporting chemical sample characteristics are made concerning weather, degree of flow, color, odor, and turbidity.

For entire article, please visit website below.

State asks locals to watch the watershed

Plan will monitor sediment flowing into the Truckee River
By Julie Brown/Sierra Sun
March 6, 2008, 11:49 AM

Placer County and the Town of Truckee are partnering to develop a comprehensive strategy to monitor the water quality of the Truckee River watershed and combat sediment that is clouding the river.

But first, they are looking to the local community to see what monitoring efforts are already underway.

“Our job is to look at the big picture,” said Bill Schell, contract manager with the Placer County stormwater quality division. “And coordinate [the data] so it all makes sense, and it’s consistent and timely. [A comprehensive monitoring plan] gives us a better pulse of what’s happening on the river, itself.”

Because of the levels of sediment in the river — in addition to the importance of the Truckee River for drinking water, agriculture, restoring groundwater supplies and recreation — the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes the Truckee as an “impaired” river.

The monitoring plan, which was issued to Placer County and the Town of Truckee as a technical directive by the State of California’s Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, will ultimately pinpoint where sediment is entering the Truckee River watershed.

For entire article, please visit the website.

Truckee River Watershed Council -- Yearly Monitoring Data

Attached please find the Quality Assurance Protection Plan the TRWC adheres to for quality assurance in the volunteer monitoring program.

Influence of Riparian Vegetation on Local Climate and River Temperature

This project is managed by
Gayle Dana, Jim Brock, and John Stanley

Temperature is of fundamental importance to the function of aquatic ecosystems and the distribution and abundance of species. Water temperature is critical to maintenance of self-sustaining fisheries with considerable resources being applied towards managing flow, channel, and riparian conditions in order to promote optimal thermal regimes. Numerical models that simulate river temperature have come into common use by managers concerned with water quality (pollutant loading) as well as biological communities.

These models typically require meteorologic data (e.g., air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation). Such data typically are obtained from regional weather stations and applied to conditions at a point in the basin. Some models, such as SNTEMP (Bartholow 1995) make adjustments for elevation but generally it is assumed that the climate data from the weather station (commonly located a t airports) adequately reflect conditions that influence river temperature.

Meteorological data (air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, solar radiation) were collected in two areas within in the Truckee River Basin, Nevada. Stations within Reno Urban area include the Reno Airport (Reno), which is presently used in the modeling efforts described earlier, and the Desert Research Institute (DRI). At the Lower Truckee River area, data were collected in 4 different habitat types near the river: open water (OW), shaded riparian (SRA), gallery forest (GF), and open field (OF). Two stations were set up in each habitat type. Data were collected from September 27 to October 23, 2001.

Carbon and Nitrogen Stable Isotopes on the Truckee River: Results of March 2004 Sampling

Prepared By
Laurel Saito, Ph.D., P.E., Christa Fay, and Kristin Kvasnicka
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Nevada Reno
1000 Valley Road
Reno, NV 89512-0013

Prepared For
Karen Vargas, Environmental Specialist
Nevada Division of Environmental Protection
July 27, 2004

Dr. Laurel Saito and her students at the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) have been collaborating with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT), the Desert Research Institute (DRI), and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) to investigate the use of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes to understand anthropogenic impacts on the aquatic ecosystem in the Truckee River. Previous work included stable isotope sampling and analysis of the Truckee River aquatic food web (i.e., fish and macroinvertebrates, and periphyton) in the summers of 2002 and 2003 during relatively low flows, and in the spring of 2003 during higher flows. The scope of the current study involved collecting another set of aquatic food web samples in March 2004 on the Truckee River for carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis. This report presents the methods and results of this sampling.

The Truckee River is a vital resource to Nevadans in the northwest region of the state. It provides public water supplies to the cities of Reno and Sparks, and while little irrigated agriculture occurs directly adjacent to the river, about one-third of its flow is diverted to the Lahontan Valley for irrigation purposes. The river terminates into Pyramid Lake, which has experienced severe declines in water level because of the heavy water diversions along its length. In addition, there are numerous resort and recreational activities throughout the basin, and the river and Pyramid Lake provide valuable water and habitat for endangered Lahontan cutthroat trout and cui ui species. In 1998, the USGS’s Nevada Basin and Range (NVBR) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program reported that while stream habitat at all sites (based on degradation indices related to riparian vegetation, stream modification, bank stability, and bank erosion) on the Truckee River system was better than the national median, fish communities in the lower reaches of the Truckee River were more degraded than the national median (Bevans et al. 1998). Furthermore, nutrients in the river and trace elements in its sediments increased 3 to 10 times downstream of the discharge from sewage treatment plants and the entrance of Steamboat Creek to the river. Thus, it appears that downstream influences on water quality and associated biological activity are detrimentally affecting the food web in the Truckee River.

The current work involves the use of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes to gain insight into the aquatic food web. The use of stable isotopes in trophic studies employs the fundamental concept that ‘you are what you eat.’ Stable isotopes incorporate two kinds of information: origin and fractionation. The isotopic signature of an individual will reflect the signature of the sources of the isotopes (i.e., where the isotopes first entered the food web) and the change in the isotopic signature due to isotopic fractionation by consumption and metabolism in the food web (Peterson and Fry 1987). Because isotopes accumulate in body tissues over time, a one-time analysis of stable isotopes provides a time-integrated measure of the diet (Fry and Sherr 1984; Hesslein et al. 1993; Vander Zanden et al. 1998). Stable isotope analysis can even be used in food webs with omnivory because isotope values can be measured in all levels of the food web, including phytoplankton, zooplankton, and aquatic insects (Michener and Schell 1994; Vander Zanden and Rasmussen 1996; France 1997). Carbon and nitrogen ratios are the most commonly used stable isotope ratios in food web studies. Carbon ratios (?13C ) are used because the slight (0.2 – 1.1000) increase of ?13C in animals relative to their diet means that the ?13C signature of the primary producer (first organic food source) is likely to be preserved through several trophic levels (Peterson and Fry 1987; Michener and Schell 1994; Yoshioka et al. 1994; France and Peters 1997). Thus, carbon isotope analysis can be used to identify and distinguish the influence of different primary food sources if the isotopic signatures of those food sources are distinctive enough (Forsberg et al. 1993; Michener and Schell 1994). The nitrogen ratio (?15N ) is often used as an indicator of trophic position of a consumer (Fry 1988; Kling et al. 1992; Yoshioka et al. 1994) because the increase of ?15N with trophic level is much greater than with carbon (~3-4000 per trophic level) (Michener and Schell 1994).

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes have value in potentially detecting anthropogenic influences on aquatic food webs. Human- and animal-derived wastewater should have higher ?15N values because of the volatilization of 15N depleted ammonia which occurs during the hydroloysis of urea, and because humans tend to eat higher in the food chain, which elevates their waste nitrogen signatures (Heaton 1986; Silva et al. 2002; Wayland and Hobson 2001). On the other hand, synthetic fertilizers are typically derived by industrial fixation of atmospheric nitrogen (which has a reference signature of 0000), so waters draining fields using these fertilizers tend to have lower nitrogen signatures (Heaton 1986; Silva et al. 2002). Distinctive carbon signatures may be detected when aquatic-terrestrial interactions are altered (e.g. due to alteration of the stream channel and/or flooding regime) because terrestrial plants may have significantly different ?13C signatures than their aquatic counterparts. Such approaches have been used to detect the importance of autochthonous versus allochthonous material in streams (Rounick and Winterbourn 1986; Finlay et al. 1999). In addition, shifts in food web dynamics such as shifts in diets or elimination of species may be detectable with stable isotopes; if the food chain shortens, we should see shifts in nitrogen signatures in the top predators, and if a food source is eliminated at the base of the food web, we may see shifts in the carbon signature.

Memo: Data availability for modeling water quality on the Truckee River

Written By

J.T. Brock
Rapid Creek Research

Prepared For

Carollo Engineers
Walnut Creek, California
Reno/Sparks/Washoe Co. Truckee River Project


This document provides a description of data available to support water quality modeling in the Truckee River Basin (DSAMMt model). Conditions within the Truckee Basin have changed considerably throughout the 19th century (beaver importation, riparian tree removal, channelization, flow diversion for agriculture, flood control, Marble Bluff Dam, grazing, flow augmentation, riparian restoration, etc.). Future changes are expected associated with river operations, flood control, and channel restoration. Although it is one of the better studied rivers in the world, there are significant gaps in our knowledge of the system.

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