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Idaho State University

Structure & Function of Streams Across Gradients of Development & Stream Flow Permanence in the Portneuf River Watershed


Idaho State University Participants

Rebecca Hale, Carolyn Macek

Partners and Affilation

Hannah Sanger - City of Pocatello

Research Problem

Within Pocatatello urban stormwater is an important challenge and major cause of aquatic ecosystem degradation, largely through effects on hydrologic patterns and water quality. The objective of this work is to understand how patterns of urban stormwater quality and quantity vary across a gradient of urban development and stream flow permanence in Pocatello, ID.

Research Outcomes

Example: To accomplish this, we will instrument urban watersheds in the Pocatello, ID area with automated water samplers that will collect stream water samples during rainfall-runoff events and during snowmelt. These measurements will be paired with measurements of discharge and rainfall depth. Samples will be analyzed for total suspended solids, particulate organic matter, nitrate, ammonium, phosphate, dissolved organic carbon, and total dissolved nitrogen. Concentrations and loads of these materials will be compared across sites, and relationships between hydrology and water quality will be compared across sites.

Potential Impacts

This research will fill a critical gap in the urban stream and urban stormwater literature, which currently does not address patterns in cold desert ecosystems and has few examples of studies on temporary streams. Furthermore, while there are many urban stream studies in areas with significant snowfall, the seasonal aspect of urbanization’s effects on hydrology and water quality has only been explored at the broadest levels. This research is also of local significance since these watersheds will fall under the City of Pocatello’s stormwater management permit. Detailed research on urban stormwater in Pocatello is welcomed by local managers and will be used to better understand the local challenges and opportunities for stormwater management.