Evaluation of a fine sediment removal tool in spring-fed and snowmelt driven streams

Ecological Restoration
By: , and 



The accumulation of fine-grained sediments impairs the structure and function of streams, so removing fine sediments may be required to achieve restoration objectives. There has been little work on methods of removing excess sediment or on the efficacy of the methods. We used a 4-year before-after-control-impact design in southeastern Idaho streams to test a fine sediment removal system (FSRS) manufactured by Streamside Environmental LLC. The FSRS agitates fine sediment in the substrate with clean pump water and then vacuums the sediment out of the stream with a second pump. Our objectives were: 1) to test if the FSRS can selectively remove fine sediment; 2) to monitor the bio-physical responses in FSRS treated and downstream waters; and 3) to compare the bio-physical responses to the FSRS in spring-fed and snowmelt driven stream reaches. The FSRS removed ~ 14 metric tons of sediment from the two treated reaches. More than 90% of this sediment was < 2 mm, indicating that the FSRS selected for fine sediment in both stream types. Sustained effects of removing this sediment were confined to substrate improvements in treated reaches. Embeddedness in the spring-fed reach decreased and subsurface grain size in spring-fed and snowmelt driven reaches increased. We did not detect any sustained invertebrate or fish responses in treated reaches or any detrimental bio-physical responses in downstream waters. These results indicate that the FSRS reduced fine sediment levels but sediment removal did not reverse the impacts of sediment accumulation to stream biota within our monitoring time frame.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evaluation of a fine sediment removal tool in spring-fed and snowmelt driven streams
Series title Ecological Restoration
DOI 10.3368/er.33.3.303
Volume 33
Issue 3
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher University of Wisconsin Press
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 303
Last page 315
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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