After months of preparation, doctorate student Robert Annear and advisor Scott Wells of the civil engineering department received a grant in early January to research the impact of stream bed heating on shallow stream water temperatures.
The $15,000 grant, awarded by the U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) through the Water Resources Research Institute, gives Annear and Wells the funds necessary to develop the equipment and the means to test their ideas in two or three streams this summer.
A model developed by the Army Corps of Engineers called CE-QUAL-W2 Version 3 investigates management options for meeting drinking water demand and temperature requirements for salmon habitats.
Annear and Wells are currently collecting data on water temperatures in an attempt to identify and account for a variable previously neglected: heat emission from rocks in the stream bed.
In shallow water systems, it is possible for the streambed rocks and gravel to absorb the sun’s rays throughout the day, heating up. The rocks act as conductors for heat and later in the day a delayed exchange of heat from the rocks to the water occurs. This results in higher water temperatures at times when the sun has less influence on heating the water.
The U.S.G.S. and the City of Portland Water Bureau are interested in Annear and Wells’ research because the data will help to further their understanding of water management issues. Under the requirement of the Clean Water Act a river may not exceed certain guidelines, including water temperature. When a river is in violation of the Clean Water Act, it goes on the 303d list and research is done to improve the situation.
By studying the streambed heat exchange, Annear hopes to develop a formula for the model, which will enable the City of Portland to lower the water temperatures in the lower Bull Run River. That river is currently in violation of the Clean Water Act. This will help to maintain a healthy habitat for the salmon population.
Annear has already chosen the Bull Run River System as a potential research site and is currently investigating other possible locations. Bull Run is ideal, Annear said, because it is highly sloped, and there is a preexisting wide riverbed with very shallow water during the late summer.
Before the field studies begin, they must find one or two locations other than the Bull Run, and gain permission from the necessary officials to access the protected watersheds.
Annear will also be reviewing existing literature, working to develop his field study methodology and coordinating with the city and others for possible assistance in conducting the fieldwork.
After receiving a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering from Boston University, Annear moved to Portland to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering and a doctor of philosophy in environmental sciences and resources/civil engineering.
Annear said he had always been interested in water resources issues and that the two programs at PSU attracted him to move here. The Bull Run project will serve as the topic of his dissertation to finish his doctorate degree in December 2002.