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Chouinard, V (2018) San Francisquito Creek watershed sustainability analysis: A novel approach. Master’s Thesis. Harvard Extension School, Harvard University.

Year Published: 2018

In the western US, most water consumers rely on imports from outside their local watershed. This has implications for both the recipient watershed as well as those which provide the water. The most widely-used metric available to quantify watershed sustainability, the Watershed Sustainability Index (WSI), assumes that water used within the watershed originates there. This research aims to identify and address shortcomings of this metric. Specifically, I adapt the WSI to accommodate watersheds in which imports and exports warrant consideration, I integrate additional sustainability indicators, and I present the results in a treemap. I applied the resulting tool, the Watershed Sustainability Visualization (WSV), to the local San Francisquito Creek (SFC) watershed to evaluate watershed management effectiveness. I hypothesized that the SFC watershed would perform poorly in a sustainability analysis on hydrological and environmental dimensions, despite the perception that it is healthy and well-managed. Using data available from local agencies and existing databases, I calculated the SFC WSV scores for each indicator. I evaluated the indicators for hydrology and environment and determined that although the quantitative sub-indicator for hydrology supported my hypothesis, the others did not. Furthermore, I hypothesized that, although robust, current management efforts may not adequately address dimensions on which the watershed sustainability analysis indicates a need for improvement. As it turns out, issues are being addressed; however, it remains to be seen whether the outcome will have a favorable or unfavorable impact on sustainability. [link to publication]