Get access

Constructing an Interdisciplinary Flow Regime Recommendation


  • Paper No. JAWRA-09-0138-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.



Bartholow, John M., 2010. Constructing an Interdisciplinary Flow Regime Recommendation. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 1-15. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00461.x

Abstract:  It is generally agreed that river rehabilitation most often relies on restoring a more natural flow regime, but credibly defining the desired regime can be problematic. I combined four distinct methods to develop and refine month-by-month and event-based flow recommendations to protect and partially restore the ecological integrity of the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins, Colorado. A statistical hydrologic approach was used to summarize the river’s natural flow regime and set provisional monthly flow targets at levels that were historically exceeded 75% of the time. These preliminary monthly targets were supplemented using results from three Poudre-specific disciplinary studies. A substrate maintenance flow model was used to better define the high flows needed to flush accumulated sediment from the river’s channel and help sustain the riparian zone in this snowmelt-dominated river. A hydraulic/habitat model and a water temperature model were both used to better define the minimum flows necessary to maintain a thriving cool water fishery. The result is a range of recommended monthly flows and daily flow guidance illustrating the advantage of combining a wide range of available disciplinary information, supplemented by judgment based on ecological principles and a general understanding of river ecosystems, in a highly altered, working river.