Influence of streambank fencing with a cattle crossing on riparian health and water quality of the Lower Little Bow River in Southern Alberta, Canada
Agricultural Water Management , 97 , 2010

Miller, J., Chanasyk, D., Curtis, T., Entz, T., Willms, W.

The goal of beneficial management practices (BMPs) such as streambank fencing is to prevent or reduce water pollution of surface water bodies. We conducted a four year (2004–2007) study on a fenced 800-m reach of the Lower Little Bow (LLB) River in southern Alberta, Canada. Our hypothesis was that riparian health would be improved by streambank fencing, and that cattle exclusion would prevent water pollution within the fenced reach. Physical, chemical, and microbiological variables in the river were determined throughout the four years, and water quality variables at the upstream (control) and downstream (BMP-impact) sites during the post-BMP phase were evaluated using a paired t-test. The overall health of the riparian area, based on a visual assessment of vegetative, soils, and hydrologic features, was improved from a score of 65% (healthy but with problems) for pre-BMP phase in 2001 to 81% (healthy) for post-BMP phase in 2005. The majority of water quality variables were not significantly (P > 0.10) different at the downstream and upstream sites during streambank fencing. The evidence from our study indicated that streambank fencing improved the riparian health, and that the BMP prevented the majority of water quality variables from increasing downstream.