What Research is Currently Taking Place Within the Watershed?

Currently, research is being conducted in the Kromma Kill Watershed to better understand the hydrology of the land and the water quality of the stream channels to identify new potential restoration strategies to put into effect in the watershed. Several rain gages, as well as stream gages, have been placed throughout the watershed as a means to measure and gather information on water speed as it travels. These instruments are also used to measure how much water is actually traveling through the land.  

For more information about research during the summer and fall of 2014, please view our newsletter here.

Additional current and past research projects are described in more detail below.

Siena College Rain Garden Project

A student team received funding from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute to design and build a rain garden on campus. A rain garden is a landscaped depression in the ground that is designed to collect rainwater from roofs, driveways, parking areas, or other hard surfaces, thereby reducing the amount of contaminated runoff entering local waterways. The rain garden will benefit the College and the surrounding community and provide educational and research opportunities for Siena students. The student team, Amanda Stasiewicz ('14), Nicholas Giannetti ('13), Jacqueline Kelly ('13), Daniel Liguori ('13), and Jonathan Glueckert ('14) constructed the rain garden with help from the Environmental Club. The student team presented their project at a statewide competition. Click on the image below for more information.

Unified Stream Assessment

Urban development and the building of impervious surfaces like roads, buildings, and parking lots can cause runoff to be delivered to stream channels faster and in greater quantity than in pre-development conditions. This can cause erosion and other types of stream channel degradation in urban stream channels like those in the Kromma Kill watershed. 

A Unified Stream Assessment (USA) is a method developed by the Center for Watershed Protection (CWP, to locate and evaluate stream degradation problems and restoration opportunities within the urban stream corridor. A USA is currently being carried out in several locations within the Kromma Kill watershed. Once completed, the results of the USA will help us identify restoration opportunities for the watershed. These will include methods to stabilize the stream bank and prevent erosion such as installing large logs along the stream bank that can provide fish habitat and creating step pools that slow down the flow of water in the stream channel. 

Stream bank failure at a local stream channel within the Kromma Kill Watershed.

Long-term Rainfall and Streamflow Monitoring

Measuring rainfall and streamflow is a method to determine how much water is entering and leaving the watershed. Monitoring rainfall and streamflow throughout time, helps us understand how the watershed responds to development and other changes. Rainfall is monitored using a simple Tru-Check rain gages. After a rainstorm, the rain gage is checked and the total rainfall amount is recorded. Rainfall is also monitoring using a tipping bucket rain gage. During a rainstorm, the "bucket” in the rain gage tips after 0.01 inches of rain. This way, we can tell determine how heavy the rainfall was throughout the storm. Each week, we connect a laptop to the tipping bucket rain gage to download the data. Streamflow is monitored using a water-level logger. The logger records the height of water in the stream channel. We can convert water height to volumetric flow rate by taking streamflow measurements using a flow-meter. Currently, monitoring stations have been established at three locations within the watershed. All three of the stations are equipped with water-level loggers and two of the stations are equipped with rain gages.

Stormwater Modeling 

Stormwater modeling is a methods to determine the impact of urban development as well as watershed restoration efforts on the hydrology of the watershed. Using a stormwater model, we can estimate the impact of a restoration project on streamflow velocities and flooding. Currently, a stormwater model is being developed of the watershed using the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Storm Water Management Model (SWMM). SWMM is a rainfall-runoff model used simulation of runoff quantity and quality from primarily urban areas. SWMM uses rainfall and streamflow data collected through the monitoring efforts described about. A model is built of the watershed using geospatial data available through Albany County and collected in the field. 

EPA Campus Rainworks Challenge

A student team entered the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Campus Rainworks Challenge.  The student team designed an innovative green infrastructure project for a site on the Siena campus showing how managing stormwater at its source can benefit the campus community and the environment.  The EPA defines green infrastructure as, "an approach that communities can choose to maintain healthy waters, provide multiple environmental benefits and support sustainable communities. Unlike single-purpose gray stormwater infrastructure, which uses pipes to dispose of rainwater, green infrastructure uses vegetation and soil to manage rainwater where it falls. By weaving natural processes into the built environment, green infrastructure provides not only stormwater management, but also flood mitigation, air quality management, and much more." (