The Kwakshua channel is the subject of multi-disciplinary research by the Hakai institute. It separates Calvert and Hecate Islands, which both have multiple watersheds draining into it. These watersheds differ significantly in topography, distribution of lakes and wetlands, (and ecology?). The overarching research question is to quantify the transfer of terrestrial materials to the aquatic environment, and the resulting ecological impact. Through a comprehensive hydrological analysis from input (weather) to output (streamflow) including storage (wetlands/lakes).
Each watershed is monitored with weather stations, stream height gauges, and a salt dilution system that allows automatic flow measurements during high flow conditions. Along with stream cross sections, this data allows discharge curves relating flow to stream height can be developed.
The salt dilution method utilizes the difference in the electrical conductivity (EC) of an injected salt water solution and the base level EC of the stream. The solution is dumped upstream and the characteristics of the salt “wave” are recorded downstream. The delay, duration, and peak value of the salt wave give information on the stream flowrate. This system is automated and controlled based on stream height. The advantage of this method is that it can be used for steep turbulent streams unlike with current flow meters.