Urban Stream Rehabilitation in the Pacific Northwest: Physical, Biological, and Social Considerations

EPA Grant Number: R825284
Title: Urban Stream Rehabilitation in the Pacific Northwest: Physical, Biological, and Social Considerations
Investigators: Burges, Stephen J. , Booth, Derek B. , Karr, James R. , Schauman, Sally
Institution: University of Washington - Seattle
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: April 1, 1997 through March 30, 2000
Project Amount: $663,020
RFA: Water and Watersheds Research (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water and Watersheds , Water


Urban streams are degraded streams; this much is common knowledge. Society is eager to "rehabilitate" these streams, but funds are perennially limited and examples of failed efforts are commonplace. We need a framework for evaluating prospective rehabilitation "candidates," for recommending realistic rehabilitation goals, and for guiding the tangible design of rehabilitation projects that will achieve their desired functions in the real-world urban and suburban landscape.

The proposed research addresses the two most vexing questions that face any efforts at stream rehabilitation, restoration, or enhancement: What can we really expect to accomplish through such actions? How can we best accomplish it?

The research will assess the consequences of urban watershed alteration on physical and biological channel functions, evaluate the degree to which rehabilitation efforts can recover lost functions, determine the most successful types of such rehabilitation methods in the urban environment, and test the range of public visual acceptance for rehabilitation measures using computer-generated photosimulations of a variety of design alternatives in actual field settings. The objectives for this work are framed in a process-based, watershed context: What are the landscape processes that are critical in determining channel patterns? How does urbanization affects the rate, the magnitude, the frequency, and the spatial distribution of those processes? What are the changes in physical patterns that result from urbanization? What are the biological and social implications of those changes? To what degree can their undesired consequences be reversed?

At its conclusion, the integration of the study approaches--physical, biological, and visual--should yield a set of products that provide guidance in the rapidly expanding but poorly directed field of urban stream dehabilitation. Such an integration, however, would be incomplete without the assistance of colleagues beyond the research team, and meaningless without a variety of vehicles with which to disseminate and refine the results. This proposal therefore includes commitments both to an interdisciplinary seminar series in the second and third years of the projects, and to active cooperation with the regions stormwater management agencies in every phase of this research.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 65 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 21 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

watershed, restoration, aquatic, stream, channel, urban, social science, hydrology., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water & Watershed, Restoration, Ecology and Ecosystems, Ecological Risk Assessment, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Social Science, Watersheds, biocriteria, watershed, hydrologic alteration, stream ecosystems, ecological recovery, urban stream rehabilitation, aquatic ecosystems, water quality, urbanizing watersheds, biological indicators, landscape characterization, environmentally stable landscape, sociological

Relevant Websites:


Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998
  • Final Report