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Kenai River Watershed

Kenai River Center
GW Scientific and Restoration Science and Engineering

Study of Ground-Water and Surface-Water Interactions Near Kenai River Salmon Redds, Alaska

Problem Statement:

Factors controlling ground-water impacts on Kenai-River salmon redds (salmon spawning beds) are not well defined. Current and future development influences on ground-water quality and related impacts on the Kenai River may influence spawning distribution. During low-stage levels, ground water may flow into the Kenai River. Snowmelt and summer precipitation can cause stage levels to increase and reverse the flow back through the river bed (see animated graphic on main page ). This cyclic interaction is dependent on the local geohydrology and relative position of the river and underlying aquifer. Development along the Kenai River may lead to ground-water contamination from fishing waste, septic systems, fuel spills, or leaking underground storage tanks. Contaminated groundwater can, in turn, impact the Kenai River and salmon redds.

Objectives:

  • Establish a series of ground-water and surface-water interaction index sites in the lower Kenai Watershed.
  • Collect baseline hydrologic and geochemistry (basic chemistry) data in the Kenai River watershed.
  • Use the Internet to distribute data, reference information, and provide dynamic visualizations of hydrologic processes. Design a basin-scale monitoring network to help characterize the ground-water and surface-water interactions in developed and undeveloped areas. This data will help provide information for monitoring long-term impacts of development in the Kenai Watershed and associated impacts of ground water on salmon redds.

Approach:

  • Establish index stations (developed and undeveloped) in the lower section of the Kenai River.
  • Collect continuous data on ground-water and surface-water levels; soil, surface-water, and river-bed temperatures. Data will be collected at 60-minute intervals for the following: Water levels at ground-water well locations (new borings, each with 2-3 piezometers); Kenai River stage levels measured at each location; soil temperatures in boreholes adjacent to the river; Soil moisture probes and specific conductance probes. Soil moisture probes will help characterize surface recharge. Specific conductance probes will help show the mass exchange between the river and adjacent ground water.
  • Characterize controlling geohydrologic processes influencing salmon redd environments.
  • Provide weekly Internet updates to promote data and interpretative information applications to policy, public interest, and research groups in the Kenai River watershed. We will update data automatically on the Internet site after field installation and initial data QA/QC reviews are complete. This should take approximately one month. Dynamic visualizations will be included to help address public education needs.

URL: http://www.kenai-watershed.org/spawning/spawning_summary.html
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