The Little Stringybark Creek Project

2014 Fall Cyberseminar Series

Tim Fletcher / University of Melbourne

Talk Abstract:

No examples of improved ecological condition in stream ecosystems resulting from low-impact urban stormwater management have been reported.  We worked with a catchment community and municipality to retrofit the stormwater drainage of a 2.5-km^2 urban area in the headwaters of a small, degraded stream on the eastern edge of Melbourne, Australia.  Flow, water chemistry, algal and macroinvertebrate assemblages, and leaf decomposition rates were monitored in 3 tributaries and the mainstem of the stream and in 3 control and 3 reference streams for 4–13 years to date. Installation of 280 stormwater systems retaining, harvesting and treating runoff from impervious areas of 10^2–10^4 m^2 took 4 years to the end of 2013.  At the time of writing, no biological changes attributable to the works have been detected, but the tributary with the most complete retention of urban stormwater runoff shows trends suggestive of increased baseflow, reduced nutrient concentrations, and unexpectedly increased electrical conductivity.  With different degrees of catchment intervention among tributaries, this study will allow important inferences on the intervention extent and intensity required to improve in-stream ecological condition.  The project also has very important lessons for those wishing to undertake such large scale research projects where community engagement is essential.

CUAHSI's Fall 2014 Cyberseminar Series on Sustainable Urban Streams— Science to Support Evolving Management Objectives!

The management of urban streams and rivers has historically emphasized two critical ecosystem services: stormwater conveyance (flood protection) and wastewater disposal. Maximizing these services has generally resulted in major alteration of aquatic ecosystem structure and function, and reduced provision of other ecosystem services, such as aesthetics, recreation, food and biodiversity. Recent decades have seen a renewed appreciation of the value of these other services, an improved understanding of the processes by which streams are altered, and the development of engineering and design practices to manage these processes in ways that can provide multiple services.   

Hosted by Seth Wenger, Director of Science of the River Basin Center at the University of Georgia