Hydrological Restoration


Hydrological Restoration

For decades, the natural hydrology and tidal flows of the Gulf of Mexico coast have been altered because of development. These alterations can take various forms such as installation of dikes, causeways, levees and other barriers, and inadequate culverts. These modifications result in reduced or restricted tidal or freshwater exchanges and change the structure and function of coastal habitats, which can eliminate nursery grounds for important marine and coastal species. By focusing restoration efforts in relatively small footprints, such as removing barriers to tidal flow or freshwater exchange, hundreds or thousands of acres can be positively impacted. The NOAA Restoration Center and the four Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant College Programs are focused on this type of restoration through a community-based partnership. The partnership is based on the following definition of hydrological restoration “To remove or modify anthropogenic barriers to restore historic tidal estuarine and freshwater exchange to benefit coastal and marine fisheries habitat.”

This multifaceted Gulf-wide project involved several hydrological restoration-related activities, which include:

  1. Develop criteria to identify and uniformly compare restoration projects

  2. Build an inventory of restoration projects using the criteria

  3. Fund on-the-ground restoration projects

  4. Identify monitoring parameters that can easily be measured and tracked over time