ENVA3021

ECOHYDROLOGY

—Fall Term Online Course for Dalhousie Students—

 

Dalhousie Students can register through Dal Online

Non-Dalhousie students can contact extended.learning@dal.ca or phone 902-893-6666 to register.

[Dalhousie students who have previously taken this course include those in Environmental Science, International Development Studies, Landscape Architecture, Earth Sciences, Biology, Animal Science, Integrated Environmental Management, Marine Biology, Philosophy, Environment Sustainability and Society, Plant Science, Undeclared Arts, and Master of Planning. The course, which has been taught online for four years, has developed a reputation among students and distance learning professionals for being one of the best organized online courses currently taught at the university. Its reputation is such that it has even attracted enrollment from students at other universities in the region.]

Course Description: This course focuses on selected best management practices (BMPs), such as treatment wetlands, buffer strips, rain gardens, or green roofs to mitigate against, or repair the damage caused by, waterside and watershed development in urban, suburban, and rural environments. That is the end goal, but to get there, we need to back up. In other words, before one can attempt to fix an environmental problem, one must understand how that problem was created; and before one can understand what is wrong, one must appreciate how something operates properly. As a result, the course begins by examining the roles of lakes, rivers, and wetlands in a natural, healthy landscape context. Next, the course moves on to review how selected anthropogenic disturbances have deleteriously impacted aquatic resources. Finally, the course concludes by examining a toolbox of remedial ecohydrological techniques that can improve or remove environmental degradation. Successful projects are examined from around the world. See overview of course topics below.

Learning Outcomes: The objective of this course is to introduce students to one of the most popular and important forms of contemporary environmental management: water-sensitive design.  The course approaches this goal through the fields of waterscape ecology and ecohydrology, which blend science, landscape architecture, and eco-engineering.  By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the important role of water in global history and the newly emerging paradigm of ecohydrology
  • Understand how lakes, rivers, and wetlands operate from a landscape and ecosystem perspective
  • Recognize the causes and severity of a suite of deleterious human influences on freshwater ecosystems in rural, suburban, and urban contexts
  • Understand the diversity of options available to improve environmental conditions in terms of water quality and quantity
  • Foster an appreciation for inter-disciplinarity, in particular, the ability to study and analyze projects holistically in terms of deliverables through the co-dependent lenses of science, landscape architecture, and eco-engineering
  • Develop and hone their critical skills in reviewing, synthesizing, and distilling information in the form of digital presentations and written assignments

Course Format and Marking: For each week, learning material is presented in several different formats. First, a set of PowerPoint presentations (PPTs) are provided that contain information distilled from many pertinent sources. These PPTs contain voice-over dialogue by the professor to guide the student through while emphasizing the most important elements therein. Next, one or several video lectures are viewed. These are our virtual guest speakers -- representing some of the world’s leading practitioners and researchers – who were filmed previously at a series of conferences run at Harvard and Dalhousie Universities.

Students have to produce a list of short salient points that demonstrate they have viewed the online material. These are handed in three times during the term.

There is no final exam. In addition to the salient points, students will produce a short critique of a published paper from the literature, write a thematic essay about a topic of interest, undertake a visual assessment of the health of streams in their neighbourhood, and participate in a conceptual design project to improve conditions for a real-world location of their choosing.

MODULE ONE – WATERSCAPE ECOLOGY Weeks 1,2,3,4

WATER & ECOHYDROLOGY

Importance, definitions and differences

WATERSHED PERSPECTIVE

Lakes and rivers in a landscape continuum

Geological/geomorphological constraints and processes

Wetland ecosystem functioning

EXTERNAL (TERRESTRIAL) ENERGY SOURCES

Wind and solar energy (lake mixing depths, thermal stratification)

Nutrient inputs (lake trophic productivity, phosphorus influence)

Particulate inputs (leaf litter, River Continuum Concept)

Dissolved organic inputs (DOC dependency, microbial loop)

MODULE TWO – ANTHROPOGENIC INFLUENCES Weeks 5,6,7

RURAL

Deforestation and riparian buffer strips

Acidification and nuisance algal blooms

RURAL/URBAN

Eutrophication of lakes and ponds

Index of Biotic Integrity and river health

Wetland loss and mitigative management

URBAN

Stormwater flooding and toxicity

MODULE THREE – BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES Weeks 8,9,10,12

STORAGE PRACTICES

Detention basins and ponds

VEGETATIVE PRACTICES

Buffer strips

Swales

Green eco-roofs

Wetlands

FILTRATION/INFILTRATION PRACTICES

Wells, trenches and basins

Bioretention swales and rain garden

Permeable pavement

WATER SENSITIVE DEVELOPMENT

Impervious surface reduction

Low impact development

MODULE FOUR – SUMMARY Week 13

OVERVIEW

Water sensitive design

Regenerative landscape design

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Nova Scotia stormwater

Truro NS stormwater

Alewife Reservation, MA wetland

Alewife Reservation stormwater