Meacham Creek Groundwater Phase II Modeling and Applied Application

Salmonid Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation (RM&E)

Project ID13-Umat-02
Recovery DomainsMiddle Columbia River
Start Date10/01/2013
End Date09/29/2017
Last Edited05/08/2024
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In summer 2011, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) completed a large channel restoration project along a one-mile (1.6 km) reach of Meacham Creek, an important steelhead and salmon-spawning tributary to the Umatilla River. This restoration effort included levee and dike removal, channel realignment (re-meandering), reshaping the adjacent floodplain, addition of large woody debris and rock for habitat complexity, and re-establishment of vegetation with the specific objective of increasing floodplain connectivity and hyporheic exchange. Additional phase II restoration efforts occurred in summer 2013 with goals and objectives, and associated restoration actions that supported the 2011 restoration efforts.

The specific opportunity addressed by this study was to continue post-project monitoring of the effectiveness of the restoration project on surface and groundwater temperature and hydrology. Post-project monitoring was designed to complement pre-project monitoring that started in March 2011 prior to the restoration project implementation. A main feature of the monitoring work was installation of groundwater wells with recording level and temperature loggers deployed in them and deployment of surface water temperature loggers to document hydrological and water temperature at the restoration site before and after the restoration project.

This project included the groundwater and surface water temperature monitoring, groundwater level monitoring, development of a high-quality database, and revision of groundwater temperature modeling theory designed to create a complete understanding of the residence time distribution for hyporheic water at the restoration site for both pre- and post-restoration conditions to document the effects of channel re-alignment on hyporheic exchange, hyporheic flow path lengths, and residence time. The overarching objective was to understand the effect of the Meacham Creek Restoration Project on groundwater and surface water (channel) temperature as part of CTUIR’s ongoing aquatic habitat recovery effort.

Tasks completed as part of the overall study
1. Determine Aquifer Properties
2. Determine Aquifer Geometry
3. Instrument Deployment and Download
4. Database Development
5. Temperature and hydrology data entry and QA/QC
6. Conceptual groundwater model development and revision
7. Groundwater model development, implementation, and revision
8. Conceptual Thermal Model Development and Revision
9. Thermal Model Development, Implementation, and Revision
10. Thermal Model Reporting
11. Phase 1 GW Model Reporting
12. Hydrology Data Analysis
13. Phase 2 GW & Meacham Creek Thermal Model Reporting

This grant 13-UMAT-02 provided funding for temperature and hydrology data entry and QA/QC by annual sample seasons which this grant covered spring 2014 through spring 2015; groundwater model development, implementation and revision; hydrology data analysis; and Phase 2 groundwater and Meacham Creek thermal model reporting.

Please see attached final progress report for full detail about the project, including key findings and figures.

Project Benefit    

The primary benefits to ESA-listed summer steelhead and bull trout, spring Chinook salmon, and other resident fish are likely increased temperature heterogeneity as a result of shifts in hyporheic hydrology from floodplain-channel restoration actions that occurred in the project area that resulted in an increase of intermediate length flow paths (~10 – 30 day residence time) and increased hyporheic exchange. These shifts in hydrology likely increased overall temperature heterogeneity and the presence of thermal refugia. Newly formed upwelling spring sites and increased alcove habitat following 2011 restoration have resulted in increased quality and quantity of fish holding and rearing habitat. Formation of spring-fed alcoves adds to both physical and temperature habitat heterogeneity and creates obvious habitat for all life stages of salmonids in all seasons. While surface water is not technically cooled within the immediate project area and within the duration of this study, water buffered to its mean daily temperature is relatively cool compared to peak daytime temperatures. Similarly in wintertime, buffered and lagged water will be relatively warm and form a thermal refuge from cold winter water temperature.


Metric Completed Originally

Funding Details

Report Total:$75,232

Project Map


Meacham Creek Floodplain Restoration and In-stream Enhancement Project, River Mile 6 to 7.1    

  • Worksite Identifier: Meacham Creek Floodplain Restoration and In-stream Enhancement Project, River Mile 6 to 7.1
  • Start Date: 10/01/2013
  • End Date: 12/31/2015
Area Description

No Area Description data was found for this worksite.

Location Information

  • Basin: Middle Columbia (170701)
  • Subbasin:
  • Watershed:
  • Subwatershed:
  • State: Oregon
  • Recovery Domain: Middle Columbia River
  • Latitude: 45.6377
  • Longitude: -118.357


  • Mid-Columbia River Spring-run Chinook Salmon ESU
  • Middle Columbia River Steelhead DPS




  • E.0 Salmonid Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation (RM&E)Y (Y/N)
    •      . . E.0.a RM&E Funding 75,232.00
    •      . . E.0.b
      Complement habitat restoration project
      Meacham Cr. Restoration Project (CRITFC PCSRF 10-Umat-04) Meacham Cr. Geomorphic-hyporheic Flow Restoration Monitoring Project (OWEB PCSRF 213-6053-10169) Meacham Cr. Groundwater Model Development and Phase I Modeling Project (CRITFC PCSRF 12-Umat-02)
    •      . . E.0.c
      Project identified in a plan or watershed assessment.
      Meacham Creek Assessment and Action Plan (2003) Umatilla River Subbasin Plan (2004) Wy-Kan-Ush-Mi Wa-Kish-Wit: Spirit of the Salmon (CRITFC, 1995)
    •      . . E.0.d.1 Number of Cooperating Organizations 6
    •      . . E.0.d.2
      Name Of Cooperating Organizations.
      CTUIR Fisheries Program, Montana State University, USFS Umatilla National Forest and Walla Walla Ranger District, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Bonneville Power Administration, Columbia River Inter-tribal Fisheries Commission
    •      . . E.0.e.1 Number of reports prepared 15
    •      . . E.0.e.2
      Name Of Report
      Amerson, Byron 2012. Groundwater and Surface Water Hydrologic and Temperature Monitoring Associated with Meacham Creek RM 6.0-7.0. Progress Report submitted to CTUIR Fisheries Habitat Program. 6pp.
    •      . . E.2 ResearchY (Y/N)
      •      . . . . E.2.a Research Funding 75,232.00
      •      . . . . E.2.b.1 Modeling and data analysisY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . E.2.b.1.a
          Key issues addressed by modeling and data analysis research
          This funding request was utilized to specifically address question 1, above: How is hyporheic hydrology influenced by channel realignment and large wood additions (and other restoration actions) associated with stream restoration? Contractually the effort for this funding was delineated into 4 tasks: 1. Temperature and hydrology data entry and QA/QC, 2. Groundwater model development, implementation, and revision, and 3. Hydrology Data Analysis, and 4. Phase 2 GW & Meacham Creek Thermal Model Reporting. Regarding the above tasks: Task 1 was completed and resulted in a clean database with over 2 million temperature and water level records representing six years and 14 instrument deployments. Additionally these data supported the research effort, and initial findings presented in the final progress report. Tasks 2 and 3 were completed resulting in functional thermal and groundwater models for pre-and post-restoration. Task 4 was completed and resulted in 5 posters and 8 talks which have been given at various professional and society meetings around the country including managers and practitioners in the Columbia River Basin, preparation of one draft manuscript detailing updates to water temperature modeling theory is ready to submit and 2 others are in preparation. A final progress report was developed and completed for these initial study results. Project results relative to funding 2013-Umat-02 are provided above.
      •      . . . . E.2.b.5 Habitat attribute studyY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . E.2.b.5.a
          Key issues addressed by habitat attribute research
          Initial physical and ecological assessment and monitoring results from the Meacham Creek Restoration Project reach are summarized by key touchstone characteristics of functional floodplain (CTUIR 2012&2014): ¿ Geomorphology – Increased channel migration and function, quantity and quality of habitat diversity, and improved sediment sorting and routing ¿ Connectivity – Increased channel access to the floodplain, off-channel and side-channel habitat, and hydrologic connectivity ¿ Vegetation – Improved geomorphic and hydrologic function, and sediment sorting and routing has led to greater vegetation response ¿ Hydrology – Increased ground water table and storage, hyporheic/surface water thermal diversity ¿ Biota – Significant increase in spawning and rearing salmon and steelhead habitat availability based on modeled depths and velocity suitability criteria, and AEM in the treatment reach indicates greater fish habitat availability, diversity, and use. Key findings from this research (Amerson 2017): 1. Channel restoration along Meacham Creek has altered hyporheic residence time distribution by increasing heterogeneity and gross hyporheic exchange has also increased. In addition to residence time heterogeneity, spatial heterogeneity of residence time has been increased in the restoration reach. The increase in hyporheic exchange is a simple matter of water balance combined with increased hyporheic storage and shorter maximum hyporheic residence times. 2. Post-restoration hyporheic exchange likely has an increased effect on stream temperature. Furthermore, hyporheic zone temperature heterogeneity has increased as function channel realignment and concomitant shifts in hydrology. Based on the increase in floodplain temperature heterogeneity, it is likely that hyporheic water upwelling temperature has increased heterogeneity as well. 3. Aquatic habitat has benefitted mainly from an increase in sites of hyporheic upwelling along the restore reach and the formation of spring-fed alcoves as the channel adjusts over time. In addition, the changes described in key findings 1 and 2 are potential benefits to aquatic habitat. Overall habitat heterogeneity in the form of temperature heterogeneity has likely increased as a result of restoration. See additional project summary above. Please see final project report description above for details on actual.