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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Watershed Management Principles As Components of Larger-Scale Basin Improvement for Ecological and Economical Sustainability

Authors
item Cooper, Charles
item Shields Jr, Fletcher
item Knight, Scott

Submitted to: Proceedings of the International Yellow River Forum
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2005
Publication Date: October 31, 2005
Citation: Cooper, C. M., Shields, F. D., Jr., Knight, S. S. 2005. Watershed management principles as components of larger-scale basin improvement for ecological and economical sustainability. Proceedings of the International Yellow River Forum. 2:75-84.

Interpretive Summary: Maintaining the healthy ecological condition of a large river basin poses considerable challenges to resource managers as they deal with multiple demands for land and water. Ultimately, to ensure ecosystem health and sustainability, a basin must be managed with a coordinated suite of proven scientific/management principles. The Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit of the Agricultural Research Service/United States Department of Agriculture is tasked with providing tools and guidance for watershed-level land and water management and our experiences provide concrete suggestions for management, including watershed scale structural and non-structural protective practices, adequate levels and appropriate types of monitoring, and a decision-making framework which provides guidance for land and water use and sustainability. Uniting many watershed concepts for improved water quality and water quantity management within a scheme of soil and water conservation will provide managers with planning tools not readily available when changes to a large river basin are initially considered.

Technical Abstract: The Yellow River is well known as sediment-laden river, with average annual sediment flow to downstream of 1.6 billion tons. Every year, an average of 400 million tons of sediment deposit on the lower reach of the Yellow River, raising the river bed up to 10cm. The river channel of the downstream region is 4-7 meters higher than the ground outside the river on average, with the maximum up to 13 meters higher. Since 1946, dikes in this area have been maintained and strengthened and a downstream flood prevention system has been preliminarily formed by retaining flooding in the upper regions. As part of an international effort to determine best management of this river, this paper presents examples of soil conservation practices and linkages to upland water retention/control and routing measures that provide for individual and watershed scale uses, water quality and habitat improvement, and sustainable ecologically and economically supportive water flows downstream. Techniques include alternative tillage practices, cover crops, diversions, riparian zone management, and retention, impoundment and grade-control structures.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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