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Assessment of Habitat and Streamflow Requirements for Habitat Protection, Usquepaug–Queen River, Rhode Island, 1999–2000

By David S. Armstrong and Gene W. Parker

Open-File Report 02-438

 

ABSTRACT

The relations among stream habitat and hydrologic conditions were investigated in the Usquepaug–Queen River Basin in southern Rhode Island. Habitats were assessed at 13 sites on the mainstem and tributaries from July 1999 to September 2000. Channel types are predominantly low-gradient glides, pools, and runs that have a sand and gravel streambed and a forest or shrub riparian zone. Along the stream margins,overhanging brush, undercut banks supported by roots, and downed trees create cover; within the channel, submerged aquatic vegetation and woody debris create cover. These habitat features decrease in quality and availability with declining streamflows, and features along stream margins generally become unavailable once streamflows drop to the point at which water recedes from the stream banks. Riffles are less common, but were identified as critical habitat areas because they are among the first to exhibit habitat losses or become unavailable during low-flow periods. Stream-temperature data were collected at eight sites during summer 2000 to indicate the suitability of those reaches for cold-water fish communities. Data indicate stream temperatures provide suitable habitat for cold-water species in the Fisherville and Locke Brook tributaries and in the mainstem Queen River downstream of the confluence with Fisherville Brook. Stream temperatures in the Usquepaug River downstream from Glen Rock Reservoir are about 6°F warmer than in the Queen River upstream from the impoundment. These warmer temperatures may make habitat in the Usquepaug River marginal for cold-water species.  Fish-community composition was determined from samples collected at seven sites on tributaries and at three sites on the mainstem Usquepaug–Queen River. Classification of the fish into habitat-use groups and comparison to target fish communities developed for the Quinebaug and Ipswich Rivers indicated that the sampled reaches of the Usquepaug–Queen River contained most of the riverine fish species that would have been expected to occur in this area. Streamflow records from the gaging station Usquepaug River near Usquepaug were used to (1) determine streamflow requirements for habitat protection by use of the Tennant method, and (2) define a flow regime that mimics the river's natural flow regime by use of the Range of Variability Approach. The Tennant streamflow requirement, defined as 30 percent of the mean annual flow, was 0.64 cubic feet per second per square mile (ft3/s/mi2). This requirement should be considered an initial estimate because flows measured at the Usquepaug River gaging station are reduced by water withdrawals upstream from the gage. The streamflow requirements may need to be revised once a watershed-scale precipitationrunoff model of the Usquepaug River is complete and a simulation of streamflows without water withdrawals has been determined.

Streamflow requirements for habitat protection were also determined at seven riffle sites by use of the Wetted-Perimeter and R2Cross methods. Two of these sites were on the mainstem Usquepaug River, one was on the mainstem Queen River, and four were on tributaries and the headwaters of the Queen River. Median streamflow requirements for habitat protection for these sites were 0.41 (ft3/s)/mi2, determined by the Wetted-Perimeter method and 0.72 ft3/s/mi2, determined by the R2Cross method.


CONTENTS

Abstract 

Introduction 

Purpose and Scope 

Description of the Study Area

Previous Studies 

Acknowledgments

Study Methods

Habitat Assessment 

Stream-Temperature Assessment

Fish-Community Assessment

Determination of Streamflow Requirements for Habitat Protection.

Methods Based on Streamflow Records 

Methods Based on Physical and Hydraulic Characteristics

Characterization of Stream Habitat, Temperature, and Fish Communities 

Habitat Assessments

Usquepaug River near Usquepaug (Site U3), South Kingstown 

Usquepaug River near Laurel Lane (Site U2), South Kingstown

Usquepaug River at Route 138 (Site U1), South Kingstown

Queen River near Kingston Road (Site Q8), Exeter 

Queen River at Liberty Road (Site Q7), Exeter

Queen River near Dawley Road (Site Q6), Exeter 

Queen River at Dawley Road (Site Q5), Exeter 

Queen River near New School Land Road (Site Q4), Exeter

Queen River at William Reynolds Road (Site Q3), Exeter

Queen River near William Reynolds Road (Site Q2), Exeter

Locke Brook at Mail Road (Site L1), Exeter 

Fisherville Brook at Liberty Church Road (Site F2), Exeter 

Fisherville Brook near Pardon Joslin Road (Site F1), Exeter 

Summary of Habitat Variability with Flow 

Stream Temperature

Fish-Community Assessment

Streamflow Requirements for Habitat Protection 

Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration and Range of Variability Approach

Tennant Method 

New England Aquatic-Base-Flow Method 

Wetted-Perimeter Method

R2Cross Method

Comparison of Streamflow Requirements and Methods 

Suggestions for Further Study

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

Appendix 1 Study-site Descriptions and Documentation of Input and Calibration Data for HEC-RAS and WinXSPro Models 

1. Site U2, Usquepaug River near Laurel Lane, Richmond/South Kingstown, Rhode Island

2. Site U1, Usquepaug River at Route 138, Richmond/South Kingstown, Rhode Island 

3. Site Q5, Queen River near Dawley Road, Exeter, Rhode Island.

4. Site Q3, Queen River near William Reynolds Road, Exeter, Rhode Island 

5. Site L1, Locke Brook at Mail Road, Exeter, Rhode Island

6. Site F2, Fisherville Brook at Liberty Church Road, Exeter, Rhode Island

7. Site F1, Fisherville Brook near Pardon Joslin Road, Exeter, Rhode Island

FIGURES

Figure 1. Map showing location of towns, drainage network, impoundments, gaging stations, and habitat-assessment sites, Usquepaug–Queen River Basin, Rhode Island

Figure 2. Hydrograph showing daily mean discharge, water years 1999–2000, and median of daily mean discharge for the period of record for the Usquepaug River at Usquepaug, gaging station (01117420)

Figure 3. Diagram showing example of (A) a stream-channel cross section and graph showing (B) the relation between wetted perimeter and discharge

Figure 4. Photographs showing habitat features on the Usquepaug River near Usquepaug (Site U3) South Kingstown: (A) bend pool and exposed sandbar, upstream view, and (B) submerged aquatic vegetation and overhanging vegetation, downstream view

Figure 5. Photographs showing habitat features on the Usquepaug River near Laurel Lane (Site U2), South Kingstown: (A) riffle-and-run habitat, upstream view, and (B) woody debris, downstream view 

Figure 6. Photographs showing habitat features on the Usquepaug River at Route 138 (Site U1), South Kingstown: (A) riffle habitat, downstream view, and (B) riffle habitat, upstream view

Figure 7. Photographs showing habitat features on the Queen River near Kingston Road (Site Q8), Exeter: (A) vegetated sand bars, upstream view, and (B) overhanging vegetation and deep pool, downstream view

Figure 8. Photographs showing habitat features on the Queen River at Liberty Road (Site Q7), Exeter: (A) vegetated sand bars, upstream view, and (B) shallow stream margins, downstream view 

Figure 9. Photographs showing habitat features on the Queen River near Dawley Road (Site Q6), Exeter: (A) undercut trees, downstream view, and (B) submerged aquatic vegetation, downstream view 

Figure 10. Photographs showing habitat features on the Queen River at Dawley Road (Site Q5), Exeter: (A) riffle, upstream view, and (B) left bank showing loss of stream margin habitat at low flows, downstream view

Figure 11. Photographs showing habitat features on the Queen River near School Land Road (Site Q4), Exeter: (A) shallow water, upstream view, and (B) loss of habitat at stream margins, upstream view

Figure 12. Photographs showing habitat features on the Queen River at William Reynolds Road (Site Q3), Exeter: (A) riffle with rectangular cross section during low flow, downstream view, and (B) loss of stream-margin habitat, upstream view

Figure 13. Photographs showing habitat features on the Queen River near William Reynolds Road (Site Q2), Exeter: (A) woody debris, upstream view, and (B) loss of stream-margin habitat 

Figure 14. Photographs showing habitat features on Locke Brook at Mail Road (Site L1), Exeter: (A) riffle, upstream view, and (B) riffle, downstream view

Figure 15. Photographs showing habitat features on Fisherville Brook at Liberty Church Road (Site F2), Exeter: (A) riffle, downstream view, and (B) riffle, downstream view

Figure 16. Photographs showing habitat features on Fisherville Brook near Pardon Joslin Road, (Site F1), Exeter: (A) woody debris, downstream view, and (B) run, upstream view

Figure 17. Graphs showing stream temperature in the Usquepaug–Queen River, June to September 2000: (A) Queen River at Route 102, Exeter, (B) Queen River at William Reynolds Road, Exeter, (C) Fisherville Brook at Liberty Church Road, Exeter, (D) Queen River at Dawley Road, Exeter, (E) Queen River at Liberty Road, Exeter, (F) Locke Brook at Mail Road, Exeter, (G) Usquepaug River at Route 138, South Kingstown, and (H) Usquepaug River at Route 2, South Kingstown 

Figure 18. Pie charts showing fish species habitat-use classifications for the Usquepaug–Queen River: (A) mainstem sites, 1998–2000, and (B) tributary sites, 1998–2000

Figure 19. Pie charts showing target fish communities for the: (A) Quinebaug River, Massachusetts, and (B) Ipswich River, Massachusetts

Figure 20. Boxplot showing distribution of monthly mean flow, Usquepaug River near Usquepaug, gaging station (01117420) 

Figure 21. Boxplot showing distribution of monthly mean flow for August for 11 gaging stations in southern New England

Figure 22. Boxplot showing distribution of median Wetted-Perimeter and R2Cross streamflow requirements for seven riffle sites on the Usquepaug–Queen River and the average distribution of the monthly mean flow during summer for the Beaver River (01117468), Branch River (01111500), and Wood River (01117800) gaging stations, Rhode Island, and the Indian Head River (01105730), Massachusetts

Figure 23. Graph showing median Wetted-Perimeter and R2Cross streamflow requirements, and daily mean streamflows at the Usquepaug River gaging station (01117420), between May and September during dry, normal, and wet years: (A) dry years, 1994 and 1999, (B) normal years, 1978 and 1988, and (C) wet years, 1996 and 2000 

Figure 24. Graph showing flow-duration curve for the Usquepaug River near Usquepaug gaging station (01117420), 1958–2000

TABLES

Table 1. Range of Variability Approach: flow statistics for characterization of hydrologic variation

Table 2. Relations between aquatic-habitat condition and mean annual flow described by the Tennant method for small streams

Table 3. Seasonal New England Aquatic-Base-Flow default streamflow requirements 

Table 4. R2Cross criteria for hydraulic parameters for protection of aquatic habitat 

Table 5. Location and description of stations for habitat assessments, determination of streamflow requirements, temperature dataloggers, and fish sampling in the Usquepaug–Queen River Basin, Rhode Island 

Table 6. Number of each species and percent of total number of fish collected in the mainstem and tributaries of the Usquepaug–Queen River, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency New England Regional Laboratory in 2000 and the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife in 1998 

Table 7. Scientific names and habitat-use classifications of fish in the Usquepaug–Queen River Basin 

Table 8. Hydrologic data for the 1976 to 2000 period for the gaging station Usquepaug River near Usquepaug (01117420)

Table 9. Hydrologic data for the 1976 to 2000 period for the gaging station Beaver River near Usquepaug (01117468)

Table 10. Hydrologic data for the 1976 to 2000 period for the gaging station Wood River near Arcadia (01117800) 

Table 11. Summer streamflow requirements determined by the Tennant method for the gaging station Usquepaug River near Usquepaug (01117420) 

Table 12. Streamflow requirements determined by the Tennant Method for 16 gaging stations in southern New England

Table 13. Streamflow requirements computed by Wetted-Perimeter and R2Cross methods for seven riffle study sites, Usquepaug–Queen River .

Table 1.1. Hydraulic criteria simulated by WinXSPRO for the Usquepaug River near Laurel Lane, Richmond/South Kingstown

Table 1.2. Hydraulic criteria simulated by WinXSPRO for the Usquepaug River at Route 138, upstream section, Richmond/South Kingstown

Table 1.3. Hydraulic criteria simulated by WinXSPRO for the Usquepaug River at Route 138, downstream section, Richmond/South Kingstown

Table 1.4. Hydraulic criteria simulated by HEC-RAS for the Queen River near Dawley Road, Exeter

Table 1.5. Hydraulic criteria simulated by WinXSPRO for the Queen River near William Reynolds Road, Exeter

Table 1.6. Hydraulic criteria simulated by WinXSPRO for Locke Brook at Mail Road, Exeter 

Table 1.7. Hydraulic criteria simulated by WinXSPRO for Fisherville Brook at Liberty Church Road, Exeter

Table 1.8. Hydraulic criteria simulated by WinXSPRO for Fisherville Brook near Pardon Joslin Road, Exeter


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The citation for this report, in USGS format, is as follows:

 Armstrong, D.S., and Parker, G.W., 2003, Assessment of Habitat and Streamflow Requirements For Habitat Protection, Usquepaug–Queen River, Rhode Island, 1999–2000: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-438, 78 p.

 For more information about USGS activities in Massachusetts-Rhode Island District, visit the USGS Massachusetts-Rhode Island Home Page.




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