Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory » Research » Research Project #427757

Research Project: Multi-Agency Collaboration on Geographic Information System (GIS) Based Methods for Assessing Watershed Connectivity

Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-13610-029-86-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 29, 2014
End Date: Sep 28, 2019

The long-term objectives, to be addressed in three phases, are to develop improved mapping methods and analytical methods/tools for quantifying stream and wetland connectivity and assessing its effects on downstream water quality and quantity.

This project is a collaborative effort between the Cooperator EPA Office of Research and Development-(ORD) and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to develop remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS)-based methods for desktop analysis of connectivity of small or intermittent/ephemeral streams and wetlands to larger, navigable waters (hereafter referred to as downstream waters). It will apply expertise and resources from both Agencies to specific data gaps and research needs identified in a recent EPA assessment of the physical, chemical, and biological connections between aquatic ecosystems relevant to the implementation of Clean Water Act (CWA) programs. That assessment, which reviewed more than 850 peer-reviewed publications and reports, summarized the scientific literature on connectivity and effects of streams and wetlands on downstream waters. Based on the external review draft, EPA has identified three categories of data gaps and research needs: 1. Mapping: Improved accuracy of hydrographic and wetland maps representing the location and geographic extent of small or temporary streams, conveyances, open waters, and wetlands. 2. Assessment: Development of methods and indicators to quantify stream-wetland connectivity (actual or potential) and effects on the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of waters of the United States. 3. Classification: Development of field indicators and GIS-based methods to classify water bodies by (a) the level and type of actual or potential connectivity to downstream waters, and (b) the functions by which connected waters, individually or in aggregate, influence the condition of downstream waters.