Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Watershed Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Peter Wilcock


Peter Wilcock


Patrick Belmont


Jereme Gaeta


The Diamond Fork River, and it’s tributary Sixth Water Creek, has been highly altered in terms of shape, function, and ecologicaly due to large, trans-basin flows additions to the system for irrigation starting in the early 1900s. Flows were exceptionally large for 80 years, after which they were reduced in 2004. Larger than natural flows during the low flow season were then added to the river in an effort to improve ecosystem health and recreational fishing opportunities. Since the prescription additional flow during low flow seasons, the river channel has undergone further change, most noticeably in the form of narrowing. With the channel change that has occurred over the past decade, it has been suggested that the additional flows, which augment baseflows, are too large and that key habitat elements, particularly pools, are lacking throughout the river.

We evaluated trout habitat throughout the altered reaches of the Diamond Fork River and Sixth Water Creek which are still subject to flow additions. We used a model to estimate the number of fish a reach can support at a given flow in order to evaluate which flow produces the highest quality trout habitat. We found that the current summer baseflows of 80 cfs for the lower Diamond Fork and 32 cfs for Sixth Water Creek are less than desirable and that flows less than 40 cfs for the lower Diamond Fork and flows between 20 cfs and 30 cfs for Sixth Water Creek would increase the quality of trout habitat.

We also evaluated the size and number of pools throughout the system and identified that pools are generally lacking both in size and number relative to standard requirements for trout success. We documented that as the channel narrowed, the number of pools/deep water disappeared. The lack of sediment and the limited number of flows capable of moving sediment were identified as key causes of the channel simplification and loss of pool habitat. Crucial components of future pool formation and maintenance are i) active sediment availability and ii) frequent sediment mobilizing flows. If the baseflow regime were to be lowered, we predict that the channel would narrow, which would increase the effectiveness of floods, increase mobility of sediment, and overall increase pool habitat. This research, as part of a larger, interdisciplinary project, lays the foundation for proposing new flows for the Diamond Fork River that targets ecological goals identified by stakeholders as well as providing information for future habitat restoration projects.