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About Environmental Flows

Environmental flows are a measure of the amount and quality of water flowing in a freshwater stream or river over time. This measure is based on how well the overall water flow supports and sustains a freshwater ecosystem and the life (including humans) that depends on it.

Environmental Flows and River Ecology

When studying environmental flows, five elements of a river’s or stream’s ecology need to be addressed:

  • Biology
  • Connectivity
  • Geomorphology
  • Hydrology
  • Water Quality

To learn more about these elements, select the numbers on the illustration below:

Frequently Asked Questions About Environmental Flows

Why are environmental flows important?

What is a natural flow regime?

What are examples of human water use that affect environmental flows?

How does removing water from the river affect fish and other aquatic organisms?

How do dams affect environmental flows?


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Updated: May 26, 2011