Potential for water yield improvement in Arizona through riparian vegetation management
Floodplains -- Arizona.
Aquatic plants -- Arizona.
Wetland plants -- Arizona.
Committee ChairThorud, David B.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractNew knowledge gained over the past 15 to 20 years on the management of riparian zones in Arizona for water yield improvement has been organized and analyzed. Hydrologic processes and principles applicable to riparian zones, the distribution and nature of riparian vegetation in Arizona, and new resource management methods, needs, and constraints have been evaluated, The relationship between vegetation management for water yield improvement and other resource based products and uses of riparian zones such as timber, range for livestock, wildlife and fish, recreation, and aesthetics was also assessed. Past studies and surveys indicate that Arizona has approximately 280,000 to 320,000 acres of riparian vegetation, However, pertinent information such as species composition, vegetation density, depth to groundwater, groundwater quality, and landownership have not been mapped accurately for many riparian zones in Arizona, A continuous survey of riparian vegetation cover by remote sensing supplemented by ground truth is suggested to remedy this situation. Analysis of hydrologic studies indicated the following identifiable trends in water use by riparian species, Saltcedar, arrowweed, cottonwood, and hydrophytes are the heaviest users of water (between four and eight feet of water annually). Intermediate water users (annual use between two and five feet) are seepwillow, mesquite, quailbrush, four-wing saltbush, and greasewood. Lesser amounts of water are transpired by grasses and sedges and evaporated from bare soil (0,5 to three feet annually). Five water yield improvement methods applicable to riparian zones are evaluated; conversion of one vegetation type to another, channelization, cottonwood thinning, antitranspirant and biological control treatments. Conversion treatments to grasses or crops may yield water savings of up to 2,5 acre-feet per acre annually during the first year, However, some or all of this water may eventually be used by replacement vegetation, Several constraints including possible loss of wildlife habitat, contamination of water supplies by chemical herbicides, lowered aesthetic quality, and increased soil erosion with the removal of riparian vegetation reduce the opportunities for converting a large percentage of riparian vegetation in Arizona, To justify operational conversion programs in Arizona follow up studies of current conversion projects should be instituted, Rates at which revegetation takes place, declines in water salvage as revegetation occurs, amount and value of increased herbage production, and long term effects on plant distribution and animal life need to be determined. Channelization projects in the Southwest have been credited with increasing water yields; however, methods for determining these increases are poorly documented. Channelization for flood control purposes is limited because flow of flood water is accelerated in the vicinity of the excavation and may contribute to flooding and sedimentation on unchanneled segments. Cottonwood thinning designed to reduce evapotranspiration and flood hazards has been conducted along the Verde River, Increased water yields have not been measured, Adverse effects on fish and wildlife have been reported as a result of thinning cottonwoods. Limited thinning of cottonwoods to prevent bridges from washing out or to protect existing structures on the floodplain may be beneficial. Application of antitranspirant foliar sprays to reduce plant water use is a potential treatment method for increasing water yield in riparian zones. Antitranspirants were effective in reducing transpiration rates of saltcedar plants by up to 38 per cent for three to five weeks in greenhouse and limited field studies, Research on the feasibility of obtaining supplementary water from riparian vegetation through the application of antitranspirants should be expanded, Antitranspirants, if proven safe and effective, may be mutually acceptable to water, recreation, and wildlife interests. Biological control of saltcedar is not effective at present.
Degree NamePh. D.
Degree ProgramRenewable Natural Resources