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UC professors, students study how to improve area creeks and streams

University of Cincinnati studying how to improve urban creeks and streams
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 6:16 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Biologists at the University of Cincinnati are studying low-cost ways to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in Greater Cincinnati’s creeks.

Many creeks in the greater Cincinnati area have little water on dry days, but when there are showers or storms, the creeks are affected by routine flash floods, sewage overflows, pollution, and stormwater runoff.

Professors and students are working on ways to reduce this issue and help the ecosystem simultaneously.

“What we’re doing is installing large, woody debris dams, at specific locations, and we’re hoping that that will slow the water down and decrease erosion and as the water moves under or over those dams, we’re hoping that will create pools in those areas to make some deeper habitat for fish or bugs,” Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Cincinnati Biology Peter Grap said.

UC biology professors and students, Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation, and the Environmental Protection Agency are working at Cooper Creek in Bechtold Park to place the logs and track their movement.

Here are the three parts of the study:

  • Stability: how long will the logs stay in place?
  • Erosion: how often will there be movement of rocks and sediment with the logs?
  • Biology: how will organisms fair in the habitat, including the population and diversity of different species of organisms.

UC students are drilling holes in logs and rocks with location trackers similar to how people track cats and dogs to track the rocks and logs.

The hypothesis of this study is that the logs will decrease the erosion of the creeks.

Grap added, “that’s why we’re tracking the movement of rocks out here is to see whether those particles are being mobilized in large storms - so the idea is that the wood would slow those velocities, and it won’t be enough energy to move those rocks, given the same size storm.”

To gauge the project’s effectiveness, researchers plan to add little passive transponders to each log and return to see if the wood gets washed downstream or remains in place.

If the project is successful, it could demonstrate that relatively simple efforts can have profound benefits.

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