Articles | Volume 19, issue 6
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 2663–2672, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-2663-2015
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 2663–2672, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-2663-2015

Research article 09 Jun 2015

Research article | 09 Jun 2015

How effective is river restoration in re-establishing groundwater–surface water interactions? – A case study

A.-M. Kurth1,2, C. Weber3, and M. Schirmer1,2 A.-M. Kurth et al.
  • 1Department of Water Resources and Drinking Water, Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 133, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
  • 2The Centre of Hydrogeology and Geothermics (CHYN), University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emil-Argand 11, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Surface Waters, Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Seestrasse 79, 6047 Kastanienbaum, Switzerland

Abstract. In this study, we investigated whether river restoration was successful in re-establishing groundwater–surface water interactions in a degraded urban stream. Restoration measures included morphological changes to the river bed, such as the installation of gravel islands and spur dykes, as well as the planting of site-specific riparian vegetation. Standard distributed temperature sensing (DTS) and novel active and passive DTS approaches were employed to study groundwater–surface water interactions in two reference streams and an experimental reach of an urban stream before and after its restoration. Radon-222 analyses were utilized to validate the losing stream conditions of the urban stream in the experimental reach. Our results indicated that river restoration at the study site was indeed successful in increasing groundwater–surface water interactions. Increased surface water downwelling occurred locally at the tip of a gravel island created during river restoration. Hence, the installation of in-stream structures increased the vertical connectivity and thus groundwater–surface water interactions. With the methods presented in this publication, it would be possible to routinely investigate the success of river restorations in re-establishing vertical connectivity, thereby gaining insight into the effectiveness of specific restoration measures. This, in turn, would enable the optimization of future river restoration projects, rendering them more cost-effective and successful.

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Short summary
This study investigates the effects of river restoration on groundwater–surface water interactions in a losing urban stream. Investigations were performed using Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS). The results indicate that the highest surface water downwelling occurred at the tip of a gravel island newly installed during river restoration, leading to the conclusion that in this specific setting, river restoration was effective in locally enhancing groundwater–surface water interactions.