Putting the wood back into our rivers: an experiment in river rehabilitation
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SUMMARY: This paper presents an overview of a project established to assess the effectiveness of woody debris (WD) reintroduction as a river rehabilitation tool. An outline of an experiment is presented that aims to develop and assess the effectiveness of engineered log jams (ELJs) under Australian conditions, and to demonstrate the potential for using a range of ELJs to stabilise a previously de-snagged, high energy gravel-bed channel. Furthermore, the experiment will test the effectiveness of a reach based rehabilitation strategy to increase geomorphic variability and hence habitat diversity. While primarily focusing on the geomorphic and engineering aspects of the rehabilitation strategy, fish and freshwater mussel populations are also being monitored. The project is located within an 1100m reach of the Williams River, NSW. Twenty separate ELJ structures were constructed, incorporating a total of 430 logs placed without any artificial anchoring (e.g., no cabling or imported ballast). A geomorphic control reach was established 3.1 km upstream of the project reach. In the 6 months since the structures were built the study site has experienced 6 flows that have overtopped most structures, 3 of the flows were in excess of the mean annual flood, inundating 19 of the ELJs by 2 - 3 m, and one by 0.5 m. Early results indicate that with the exception of LS4 and LS5, all structures are performing as intended and that the geomorphic variability of the reach has substantially increased.