New tools for interdisciplinary river research in Texas : flow regime assessment and stream classification



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There is a recent trend in the United States toward considering, protecting, and restoring environmental (or instream) flows in river systems. A current challenge is the development of methods to quantitatively establish environmental flow needs based on an understanding of the linkages between flow and biota and the development of integrated, multidisciplinary stream classification systems as a means to extrapolate results from reach-scale studies. An assessment of hydrologic alteration tools was performed along with the characterization of the flow regime at select gages and an evaluation of spatial and temporal patterns in hydrology and hydroclimatology within and between basins in Texas. In addition, an integrated stream classification system was developed and tested for Texas based on quantitative data for 18 distinguishing parameters encompassing watershed and stream channel processes and functions from four disciplines: (1) Hydrology & Hydraulics, (2) Water Quality, (3) Geomorphology & Physical Processes, and (4) Climatology. The State of Texas was partitioned into five regions: East Texas, South-Central Texas, Lower Rio Grande Basin, West Texas, and North-Central Texas by 8-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) basins.