The Muskingum River Watershed (20% of Ohio) has the state’s most extensive flood control network with more than 20 dams. The benefits of developing an approach to and “tweaking” the operation of these dams to improve downstream fish and mussel habitat will be generally replicable through much of the watershed. The Muskingum HUC is a priority area for the ORBFHP because of its diverse fish and remnant rare mussels and this approach should ultimately improve several hundred miles of river and stream habitat.
In the first year of the project, reservoir flows were assessed using gauged outflow from USGS and Huntington District USACE data, and modeled reservoir inflows at each of the three reservoirs, these parameters were analyzed to determine alterations to flow from 1962-1985. Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration software was used to determine preliminary impacts to key Ecological Flow Components. Comparisons of fish and mussel life stages with flow alterations will be made to develop flow alteration-response hypotheses. These findings will be useful for other impounded watersheds that seek to restore ecological flow components through changing dam operation.