- In the Pacific Northwest of the United States, salmon eggs incubating within streambed gravels are susceptible to scour during floods. The threat to egg-to-fry survival by streambed scour is mitigated, in part, by the adaptation of salmon to bury their eggs below the typical depth of scour. In regulated rivers globally, we suggest that water managers consider the effect of dam operations on scour and its impacts on species dependent on benthic habitats.
- We instrumented salmon-spawning habitat with accelerometer scour monitors (ASMs) at 73 locations in 11 reaches of the Cedar River in western Washington State of the United States from Autumn 2013 through the Spring of 2014. The timing of scour was related to the discharge measured at a nearby gage and compared to previously published ASM data at 26 locations in two reaches of the Cedar River collected between Autumn 2010 and Spring 2011.
- Thirteen percent of the recovered ASMs recorded scour during a peak-discharge event in March 2014 (2-to 3-year recurrence interval) compared to 71% of the recovered ASMs during a higher peak-discharge event in January 2011 (10-year recurrence interval). Of the 23 locations where ASMs recorded scour during the 2011 and 2014 deployments, 35% had scour when the discharge was ≤87.3 m3/s (3,082 ft3/s) (2-year recurrence interval discharge) with 13% recording scour at or below the 62.3 m3/s (2,200 ft3/s) operational threshold for peak-discharge management during the incubation of salmon eggs.
- Scour to the depth of salmon egg pockets was limited during peak discharges with frequent (1.25-year or less) recurrence intervals, which managers can regulate through dam operations on the Cedar River. Pairing novel measurements of the timing of streambed scour with discharge data allows the development of peak-discharge management strategies that protect salmon eggs incubating within streambed gravels during floods.
Streambed scour of salmon spawning habitat in a regulated river influenced by management of peak discharge
November 12, 2017