Where’s the water? Integrating instream flow restoration into habitat projects at multiple scales

Year: 2023
Presenter/s: Kate Fitzpatrick
Symposium Session: 2023 - 05 Restoration as Risk Reduction: Climate Resilience
Topics covered: climate change, drought, fish-salmon, fish-steelhead, flow augmentation, and traditional ecological knowledge


Water is the base element of functioning river systems, yet tools and methods to restore streamflows to dewatered and hydrologically-altered streams, prevalent in the arid west, can remain opaque or inaccessible to many. Generally, restoring streamflows requires an intensive knowledge of water rights, water policy, and law alongside the ability to build deep relationships and negotiate deals with those who have the rights to use water in these systems. This presentation will illustrate several examples that integrate flow restoration into physical habitat projects to optimize the benefits for fish, wildlife, water quality, and river geomorphology. These examples, ranging from site-specific projects and reach-scale work to basin-wide flow restoration in the Deschutes Basin will show what tools may be available to restoration practitioners trying to put the ‘hydrology’ back in ‘hydrologic function.’ The presentation will also touch on how flow work necessarily integrates with the disciplines of hydrology, biology, water quality, and physical geomorphology, along with the relevant water policy, cultural, and economic frameworks.