High Definition Stream Surveys: A New Process for Managing Rivers and Streams

Brett Connell, Hydrologist, Trutta Environmental Solutions

James E. Parham, Ph.D., Hydrologist and Aquatic Biologist/Director of Research & Development, Trutta Environmental Solutions

The High Definition Stream Survey (HDSS) approach to waterway assessments was created to rapidly gather continuous geo-referenced data in a single pass for any size of stream or river.  HDSS integrates GPS, video, depth, side scan imagery, velocity, and water quality information to enable a much more thorough understanding of the current and potential factors impacting the health of the waterway.

The heart of the HDSS method is the ability to gather a wide range of stream corridor data over a continuous distance to prevent extrapolation of data usually gathered by a bridge. Traditional survey methods focus on collecting highly detailed measurements at one location but ignore information for miles in either direction. The HDSS method not only delivers a more complete data set than traditional surveys but is also more efficient since fewer people are be used to capture more data faster on continuous sections of stream.  The HDSS methodology can capture data in wadeable and non-wadeable streams, providing more consistent and broadly applicable results while still collecting the data at a greater speed.

In summary, HDSS provides stakeholders with a complete visual and data representation of an entire waterway. HDSS provides users with a “virtual tour” of a river or stream that turns the blue lines on a watershed map into an extremely data-rich, fully visual planning platform.  It allows anyone to put themselves at any point in a waterway and not only see what the visual conditions are, but also correlate the video to data at that location. The breadth of data collected makes HDSS crucial to integrated planning efforts where numerous stakeholders are interested in specific areas and topics.  The result is more effective, complete, and cost efficient waterway planning.

Author Bio

Mr. Connell is a key developer of the HDSS methodology and was the founder of Trutta Consulting, which merged with Parham and Associates Environmental Consulting in 2017. He has 15 years of professional experience in water resources, stream ecology, and fisheries biology with project experience throughout the US. Mr. Connell specializes in the development and application of innovative technologies that help solve difficult water resource management problems. He earned his M.S. in Biosystems Engineering Technology from the University of Tennessee, a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Toledo, and an Associates Degree in Fisheries Management and Aquaculture from Hocking College.