This paper evaluates an experimental environmental flow manipulation by modeling the counterfactual case that no environmental flow was applied. This is an alternate approach to evaluating the effect of an environmental flow intervention when a before-after or control-impact comparison is not possible. In this case, the flow manipulation is a minimum flow designed to prevent hypoxia in a weir on the low-gradient Broken Creek in south-eastern Australia. At low flows, low reaeration rates and high respiration rates associated with elevated organic matter loading in the weir pool can lead to a decline in dissolved oxygen concentrations with adverse consequences both for water chemistry and aquatic biota. Using a one dimensional oxygen balance model fitted to field measurements, this paper demonstrates that increased flow leads to increases in reaeration rates, presumably because of enhanced turbulence and hence mixing in the surface layers. By comparing the observed dissolved oxygen levels with the modeled counterfactual case, we show that the environmental flow was effective in preventing hypoxia.
Environmental Management – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 13, 2017
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