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Channel Processes (RRISC)

Streams are often seen as barometers of aquatic system integrity, because they reflect the health and function of their watershed. Impairment of designated or beneficial uses of water often involves degradation of fishery habitat, flood stage changes, land loss, accelerated sediment deposition, and lowering of local channel base levels that impair formerly productive systems. All of these issues/concerns deal with stream channels. Their equilibrium or stability (defined as the ability to transport the sediment and flows of their watershed over time in the present climate, in such a manner that the stream maintains its dimension, pattern, and profile without either aggrading or degrading) is key in any watershed assessment attempt. This broad level assessment links hillslope and hydrologic processes with channel processes in order to assess risk of impairment associated with either sediment supply and/or stream channel stability influenced by a variety of land uses.

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