North Carolina Water Planners Have New Way to Protect Rivers and Streams

Research provides better strategies to conserve fish and aquatic insects

February 21, 2017
Georgette Foster, (919) 881-2927,

(RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – February 21, 2017) North Carolina policy makers have a new way to determine how much water is required in state rivers and streams for fish and aquatic insects to be healthy, thanks to research coordinated by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and RTI International. The series of studies gives decision makers the means to scientifically set ecological flow rates, which define the amount of water that must be maintained to preserve the health of rivers and streams.

State waterways are expected to be significantly affected by increasing water withdrawals to meet growing demand for energy, industry and population needs. The research sheds new light on the relationships between changes in streamflow and the diversity of fish and richness of benthic macroinvertebrates, or aquatic insects. The studies appear in the February 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

“The research indicates that protecting water flows can produce corresponding conservation of biological diversity and stream integrity,” said Doria Gordon, EDF lead senior scientist. “Now decision makers in North Carolina and elsewhere have a simple, clear method to establish a statewide approach to protecting water flows and the health of aquatic systems.”

The research was conducted in response to legislation passed by the 2010 N.C. General Assembly (NC Session Law 2010-143). Also collaborating on the studies were the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Geological Survey, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and The Nature Conservancy.

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.