Stream-subsurface water interaction induced by natural riffles and constructed riffles/steps was examined in lowland streams in southern Ontario, Canada. The penetration of stream water into the subsurface was analysed using hydrometric data, and the zone of >10% stream water was calculated from a chemical mixing equation using tracer injection of bromide and background chloride concentrations. The constructed riffles studied induced more extensive hyporheic exchange than the natural riffles because of their steeper longitudinal hydraulic head gradients and coarser streambed sediments. The depth of > 10% stream water zone in a small and a large constructed riffle extended to >0.2 m and > 1.4 m depths respectively. Flux and residence time distribution of hyporheic exchange were simulated in constructed riffles using MODFLOW, a finite-difference groundwater flow model. Hyporheic flux and residence time distribution varied along the riffles, and the exchange occurring upstream from the riffle crest was small in flux and had a long residence time. In contrast, hyporheic exchange occurring downstream from the riffle crest had a relatively short residence time and accounted for 83% and 70% of total hyporheic exchange flow in a small and large riffle respectively. Although stream restoration projects have not considered the hyporheic zone, our data indicate that constructed riffles and steps can promote vertical hydrologic exchange and increase the groundwater-surface water linkage in degraded lowland streams.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology