Water Quality Modeling as a Management Tool for Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass
Richard J. Ruane, Gary E. Hauser, and Andrew F. Sawyer
Abstract.—Striped bass Morone saxatilis habitat in water bodies is affected by many factors such as hydrological and meteorological conditions, eutrophication, reservoir operations, dam outlet levels, lake characteristics, and watershed characteristics. The CE-QUAL-W2 water quality model is a tool that can integrate the effects of all these factors on striped bass habitat. Once a baseline model is calibrated, it can be used to diagnose constraints to striped bass habitat, identify potential enhancement measures, and evaluate ways to alleviate the impacts of conflicting water uses. Importantly, the model integrates the best available information within the best available scientific method of evaluating water quality or habitat issues. Centering the discussion around an agreed-upon scientific tool helps to ensure that the subjective concerns expressed by stakeholders are objectively evaluated. In the three case studies explored in this paper, a change of hydropower operation was agreed to for Lake Murray, South Carolina that would help maintain summer habitat for striped bass; simulations indicated that hydropower operations were not a major factor affecting striped bass habitat in Clay-tor Lake, Virginia; and an efficient oxygen injection system was designed for J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir, South Carolina and Georgia to mitigate for habitat loss associated with a change in hydropower operation. Water quality modeling is an important tool for objectively evaluating the maintenance or enhancement of striped bass and hybrid striped bass (white bass M. chrysops × striped bass) habitat in reservoirs.