Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Bethany T. Neilson


Anticipating how stream water quality will respond to change, such as increased pollution or water diversions, requires knowledge of the main mechanisms controlling water and chemical constituent movement and a reasonable representation of those mechanisms. By deriving mathematical models to represent a stream system and collecting supporting field-based measurements, water quality response can be predicted. However, because each stream is unique and the movement of water and constituents is spatially and temporally complex, assessing whether the stream is appropriately represented and whether predictions are trustworthy is still a challenge within the scientific and management communities.

Building on decades of stream research, this dissertation provides a step towards better representing some of the complexities found within streams and rivers to better predict water quality responses over long stream distances. First, a method is presented to assess which mechanisms are considered most important in chemical constituent predictions. Next, the number of measurements necessary to represent the general complexities of water, mass, and heat movement in streams was determined. The advancements developed in this dissertation provide a foundation to more efficiently and accurately inform water resource management.