Securing environmental flows in support of freshwater biodiversity is an evolving field of practice. An example of a large-scale program dedicated to restoring environmental flows is the Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, which has been restoring flows in dewatered tributary habitats for imperiled salmon species over the past decade. This paper discusses a four-tiered flow restoration accounting framework for tracking the implementation and impacts of water transactions as an effective tool for adaptive management. The flow restoration accounting framework provides compliance and flow accounting information to monitor transaction efficacy. We review the implementation of the flow restoration accounting framework monitoring framework to demonstrate (a) the extent of water transactions that have been implemented over the past decade, (b) the volumes of restored flow in meeting flow targets for restoring habitat for anadromous fish species, and (c) an example of aquatic habitat enhancement that resulted from Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program investments. Project results show that from 2002 to 2015, the Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program has completed more than 450 water rights transactions, restoring approximately 1.59 million megaliters to date, with an additional 10.98 million megaliters of flow protected for use over the next 100 years. This has resulted in the watering of over 2414 stream kilometers within the Columbia Basin. We conclude with a discussion of the insights gained through the implementation of the flow restoration accounting framework. Understanding the approach and efficacy of a monitoring framework applied across a large river basin can be informative to emerging flow-restoration and adaptive management efforts in areas of conservation concern.
Environmental Management – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 30, 2017
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