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ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Grazinglands Research Laboratory » Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331893


Location: Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research

Title: Estimating anthropogenic ecological water stress in the US great lakes region

item ALIAN, SARA - Michigan Technological University
item MAYER, ALEX - Michigan Technological University
item WATKINS, DAVID - Michigan Technological University
item Gyawali, Rabi
item MIRCHI, ALI - University Of Texas - El Paso

Submitted to: American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2016
Publication Date: 12/12/2016
Citation: Alian, S., Mayer, A., Watkins, D., Gyawali, R., Mirchi, A. 2016. Estimating anthropogenic ecological water stress in the US great lakes region [abstract]. American Geophysical Union. Available at:

Interpretive Summary: Abstract only.

Technical Abstract: Anthropocentric water resources management that prioritizes socio-economic growth can cause harmful ecological water stress by depriving aquatic ecosystems of the water needed to sustain habitats. It is important to better understand the impacts of water withdrawal by different economic sectors (e.g., agriculture, power utilities, manufacturing, etc.), withdrawal sources, and extent of return flow (i.e., return of water to river system) at different spatial and temporal scales in order to characterize potentially harmful streamflow disturbances and to inform water management. Herein, GIS technology is used to characterize and map ecological water stress in the Great Lakes region by compiling and analyzing water withdrawal data for different use categories. An integrative geospatial method is developed to quantify catchment scale streamflow disturbance as the sum of flow depletion and return flow, and propagate it along the stream network in order to calculate water stress index as function of consumptive use and impacted streamflow. Results for the Kalamazoo River Watershed, Michigan, illustrate that although average annual and July water stress is generally relatively low, protective management actions may be necessary in a significant number of catchments, especially in urban catchments with very high water stress. Water stress is significantly higher under low flow conditions, indicating the need to adjust withdrawals to reduce adverse resource impacts on sensitive streams.