Researchers Flow to University of Idaho’s State-of-the Art River Research Lab

Wednesday, July 9 2008

July 9, 2008 Photos are available at BOISE, Idaho – When it comes to understanding rivers, the University of Idaho’s Center for Ecohydraulics Research in Boise is the place to do it. Boise is becoming a destination for researcher’s in the Northwest and worldwide who want to understand how rivers work, thanks to the cutting-edge equipment at the center, and a new grant that will increase the lab’s capabilities. Already the lab is helping researchers with river and fish habitat restoration goals around the region. “Many people fish in the Boise River and in the ponds next to the river,” said Ralph Budwig, professor of mechanical engineering with the Center for Ecohydraulics Research. “I hope that this can be preserved for years to come, unlike many cities where water pollution and other problems have curtailed sport fishing.” The center uses an artificial water channel, or flume, to help state and federal agencies as well as academia better understand river processes. University of Idaho faculty, federal agency staff, and a team of graduate and undergraduate students are using the high gradient sediment flume to study fish habitat restoration in the Boise area and around the Northwest. A $341,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust is helping with the College of Engineering's construction of ground-breaking stream laboratory research equipment at the center over the next two years. “The facility has been carefully designed to fill a current national void in laboratory facilities to study the interaction of sediment and turbulence,” said Budwig. With the addition of a sediment handling system and an innovative instrumentation system – which measures water surface profiles, water velocity fields, bed topography and a number of other processes – the laboratory will continue to provide a place for scientists to work together on stream research and develop sensible solutions toward solving water and environmental problems worldwide. “The generous gift from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust is allowing the acquisition of state-of-the-art instrumentation for the Center for Ecohydraulics Research Stream Laboratory, which will help us understand fundamental processes in steep headwater streams that are important parts of many Idaho River Basins,” said Peter Goodwin, director of the Center for Ecohydraulics Research and a professor of civil engineering. “This instrumentation helps Dr. Budwig complete the creation of a unique laboratory facility that will draw researchers from throughout the U.S. and internationally.” The flume is used to examine the coarse sediment and geomorphic diversity used for spawning and as habitat for small fish, and how near-bed turbulent structure and quality of habitat change downstream from dams. “The team has made fundamental contributions in linking ecological response to management actions and changes in the physical processes of rivers, lakes, estuaries and wetlands," said Aicha Elshabini, dean of the College of Engineering. “They have outstanding expertise in modeling the physical processes in natural and disturbed systems, and quantifying the benefits of restoration activities.” The College of Engineering partners with industry to create the ideas, innovations and workforce for a stronger tomorrow. To learn more about the Center for Ecohydraulics and the College of Engineering, visit, phone (208) 885-7879 or e-mail # # # About the University of Idaho Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit About the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust is named after Jack Murdock, one of the principal co-founders of Tektronix in 1946 in Beaverton, Ore., the trust seeks to enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest by providing grants and enrichment programs to non-profit organizations that seek to strengthen the region's educational, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Contact: Leah Andrews, College of Engineering, (208) 885-7978, LA-07/09/08-ENGR

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit