This new method provides a consistent, repeatable and quick way to identify whether an Oregon stream is intermittent, perennial or ephemeral. Intermittent streams, which flow seasonally, and perennial streams, which flow continuously, are typically subject to both state and federal regulations. Ephemeral streams only flow after rainfall or during snowmelt, and under current agency practice are protected under the Clean Water Act if they have a significant effect on the integrity of larger downstream waters.
The tool was released in November after a two-year trial run. The method was tested and refined at over 170 sites in western and eastern Oregon during both the wet and dry seasons. The method proved accurate in many environments including natural, modified and braided channels. It is a scientific tool that is useful anytime the duration of streamflow must be determined, and may help identify other stream-related issues. Because of the demonstrated benefit in Oregon, the method is already being adapted for use in Idaho and Washington.
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