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In the Midwest, channelizing and concrete-lining natural stream channels were the norm until just a few years ago with the revisions to the Corps of Engineers nationwide permits. As result of the channelization, degradation to biological communities in urban streams and rivers occurred. The effects of channelization were detrimental to physical habitat conditions in urban streams, often increasing channel incision, bank erosion, and sedimentation, while reducing substrate and channel diversity, in-stream aquatic habitat, and riparian vegetation. As urban expansion and development encompasses additional miles of streams and rivers, awareness of the effects urbanization on aquatic systems has resulted in a concerted effort by the City of Wichita, Kansas, to restore and maintain the ecological integrity of these surface waters.

The City of Wichita is currently completing a unique stream restoration process for the Midwest in which the success of the project is judged solely on the improvement of stream habitat and aquatic life. The project, Urban Stream Restoration of Gypsum Creek, is divided into three phases. Phase I consisted of a one-year, multi-parameter assessment of the chemical, physical, and biological components of the stream using three sampling points along the stream. Phase II is currently underway and consists of planning and implementing environmentally engineered restoration measures intended to improve and maintain a healthy aquatic community while continuing to maintain the creek's flood control capabilities. Finally, a third phase will be implemented, consisting of a postrestoration monitoring program of the chemical, physical, and biological components of the stream. Statistical comparisons of pre- and post-restoration data will be performed to quantify the changes in the condition of Gypsum Creek and to document the effectiveness of stream restoration measures. The Urban Stream Restoration of Gypsum Creek will demonstrate habitat and water quality restoration through stream channel improvements.

Urban sediment, nutrient and pesticide loading are common water quality concerns for most growing cities. These loadings can result in Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for streams that were considered safe and healthy prior to development. As a result, innovative Best Management Practice (BMP) strategies that restore the water quality integrity, restore ecological functions to the streams, and can be transferred to a variety of stream situations, will benefit rapidly urbanizing areas and ultimately protect the quality of life that all cities strive for as they grow.

This paper will present detailed information regarding the methodology used to conduct the Water Quality and Aquatic Habitat Assessment, the Wetland and Riparian Area Assessment, Fluvial Geomorphic Assessment for the study phase of the project. The paper will also outline key issues of the Information and Education plan to be developed as the project proceeds. Results from the study and the alternatives that were developed for the project will be discussed. Design considerations for the various BMPs to be utilized will also be discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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