Developing a Geospatial Decision Support Tool for Protecting and Restoring Environmental Flows in Texas Rivers and Streams
Johanna Valente, David Bradsby, Kevin B. Mayes, Cindy Loeffler, Lynne Hamlin, Dakus Geeslin, Kimberly Horndeski, David Young, Joe Trungale, Ryan Smith, Kyle Garmany, and Tom Hayes
Abstract.—Alteration of environmental flows is a growing concern within the conservation community as human demand for water increases. Alteration of the natural flow regime of rivers and streams in Texas has degraded aquatic and riparian habitats and contributed to declines in native fishes and other aquatic taxa. To inform identification and implementation of voluntary environmental flow protection and restoration strategies, conservation partners initiated development of the Environmental Flow Information Toolkit. The Environmental Flow Information Toolkit is being developed as a Web-based geospatial platform that will provide data and information on water use, hydrologic alteration, and environmental flow targets to meet conservation objectives and offer other data layers supported by end-user recommendations and feedback. The Environmental Flow Information Toolkit is expected to increase efficiencies and effectiveness of environmental flow conservation efforts, providing a valuable decision support tool for resource managers, water providers, and conservation organizations facing the challenges of meeting human water demand while conserving Texas’ rich natural heritage.