Analysis of the D’Olive Creek Watershed: Identifying the Local Drivers That Have led to Stream Degradation
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Anthropogenic activities have influenced the characteristics of streams and tributaries throughout the Southeastern U.S., correlating with varying levels of degradation and prompting major restoration activities. This anthropogenic impact on fluvial environments can cause extensive, systemic alterations—geomorphology, hydrology, and ecology—and lead to environmental stress. To aid local stream restoration activities, this study identified the drivers of stream degradation in the D’Olive Creek Watershed and contextualized them in relation to the adjacent Fly Creek Watershed, both located in Southern Alabama. Methods included, spatial investigation via the utilization of geographic information systems, and a field data driven case study. Primary findings reveal that the presence and expansion of impervious surfaces has led to changes in local drainage patterns, resulting in an increase in the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff. Urban expansion and resulting environmental stress is currently occurring in both watersheds, but research indicates that streams and tributaries in the D’Olive Creek Watershed are experiencing more degradation and issues related to sediment erosion and deposition. Key differences highlighted during research are two-part: the D’Olive Creek Watershed is experiencing a higher rate and distribution of urban expansion; and its landscape is steeper, compared to the Fly Creek Watershed. This study has implications for both current watershed restoration efforts and future restoration design, ultimately providing stakeholders with valuable information about the primary drivers of local stream degradation.