Impact of Riparian Vegetation on the Irrigation-Influenced Water Balance in the Lower Arkansas River Valley

Sponsor: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station

Duration: 2017–2020

PI: Ryan Morrison, Timothy Gates (CSU), Aditi Bhaskar (CSU)

Students: Matt Lurtz

The long-term goal of our proposed research is to understand the effects of riparian vegetation on the irrigation-influenced water and solute balance in the Lower Arkansas River Valley (LARV) and similar basins, and the subsequent implications for sustainable water management. To help meet our long-term goal, this project includes two objectives: 1) characterize the attributes of existing riparian habitats in the LARV and identify field sites that can be used to comparatively assess the impacts of riparian vegetation on irrigation return flow (IRF); and 2) estimate the relative magnitude of riparian evapotranspiration (ET) by comparing water balances in streamside study areas with and without riparian buffers, abutted by agricultural or by naturally-vegetated (or fallow) areas. To meet these objectives we will use a combination of aerial imagery analyses, field instrumentation and monitoring, and water balance calculations.

Ryan Morrison
Assistant Professor