CW3E delivers guest lecture and field laboratory session for the Watershed Protection and Restoration class at Feather River College

Nov 1, 2023

Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) hydrologists Garrett McGurk and Gabe Lewis recently visited Feather River College (FRC) in Quincy, California, to deliver a paired guest lecture and field laboratory session for the Watershed Protection and Restoration class. The class, taught by FRC Assistant Professor Dana Flett, is designed to provide students with essential concepts, techniques, and tools to comprehend the structure and function of watersheds and how to apply this knowledge to stream corridor restoration.

During their lecture, Garrett and Gabe shared their personal journeys to becoming hydrologists, the mission of CW3E, FIRO, AR Recon, CW3E research and operations partnerships, the importance of both high-quality meteorological and hydrological measurements, and the principles of streamflow monitoring. The students were highly engaged and actively participated by asking numerous questions during and after the presentation.

Before the visit, the students had already gathered manual discharge measurements and conducted a stream channel survey on a section of Spanish Creek situated on FRC-owned property near a CW3E hydrometeorological monitoring station installed in 2019 as part of Yuba-Feather FIRO. To supplement this data, Garrett and Gabe’s lab focused on streamgaging techniques, ultimately leading to the installation of a new streamgage on Spanish Creek. This streamgage comprises a stilling well that houses a pressure transducer for continuous level measurements and a staff gage to facilitate visual level observations.

During the lab, students took turns operating power tools and installing concrete anchors to secure the stilling well and staff gage to concrete blocks previously positioned to stabilize the channel bank. Students were also instructed on conducting discharge measurements using various flow monitoring equipment, the importance of minimizing error during high flow events, and field safety protocols. Fortunately, the water temperature allowed students to comfortably wade in the stream while engaging Garrett and Gabe in discussions related to hydrology and pertinent western water issues.

The recently installed streamgage on Spanish Creek is designed to capture continuous level measurements and will play a pivotal role in establishing a stage-discharge relationship, also known as a rating curve, in conjunction with manual discharge measurements. Developing a rating curve is a key element of FRC’s long-term objectives for stream channel restoration on Spanish Creek. The streamgage will serve to characterize baseline conditions prior to any restoration activities, providing valuable insights into the current state of the waterway. Spanish Creek is an important tributary of the Feather River, which is part of the Yuba-Feather FIRO project.

While the streamgage is not currently equipped with telemetry, FRC has plans to upgrade the station with telemetered equipment in the near future. This upgrade will enhance the accessibility and real-time monitoring capabilities of the streamgage, further advancing their ability to track and respond to changing conditions on Spanish Creek.

Students from Feather River College learn about the equipment used to monitor streamflow and the importance of hydrologic measurements from CW3E hydrologist Garrett Mcgurk.

Students from Feather River College take turns helping to install a staff gage to measure stream level during a field laboratory session for the Watershed Protection and Restoration class.