California Streams, Rivers and Lakes

Click on the map or text links below for more information about key factors related to the health of streams, rivers and lakes.

Healthy Streams

Environmental Characteristics:   Buffer | Riparian Cover | Algae | Bugs | Fish | Fines & Sands | Gravels | Cobbles & Boulders | Riffles & Rapids | Pools | Groundwater | Water Quality | Sediment Quality | Stream Gradient | Channel Stability | Channel Characteristics |   Hydrologic Connectivity | Hydrologic Sufficiency | Sediment Balance

Stressors:   Urban  |  Agriculture | Other Land Uses | Fish Contaminants | Invasive Species

Navigation Instructions:

Move your mouse over the picture to explore the variety of attributes that affect stream health. Click on an attribute to see why it is important and how we measure it. You can also click on one of the stream attributes listed above.


Why are they important?

Healthy streams, rivers, and lakes provide safe drinking water, recreational opportunities, and important habitat for species ranging from the red-shouldered hawk to steelhead to crayfish and dragonflies. Maintaining healthy streams, rivers, and lakes can reduce the need for water treatment and water supply costs and make landscapes more resilient to climate change.

How do we measure health?

To determine the health of a waterway, investigators can use a combination of chemical, biological, and physical assessments. Among the characteristics that may be considered are habitat quality, aquatic life diversity, water chemistry, stream hydrology (water flow processes), the physical channel form, and sediment transport processes of the stream.

Related Links:


algae Insects urban urban agriculture fish fish other pools groundwater riparian cover buffer gravels boulders boulders riffles Channel Stability Channel Alteration Channel Alteration Other Land Uses Stream Gradient fines Water Quality Sediment Fish Contaminants Fish Contaminants FishContaminants FishContaminants Fish Contaminants Fish Contaminants