Joel Cahoon, Otto Stein, Katey Plymesser

205 Cobleigh Hall


Research Overview

Ecohydraulics is the application of the principles of hydraulics and fluid mechanics to natural systems.  Enveloped in the field of study is an understanding and merging of often competing design goals that include sustainability, environmental and habitat concerns, human uses and consumption of water, aesthetics, safety, and food and fiber production.   The water resources faculty at MSU have a strong history of projects that span the gamut from constructed wetlands to fish habitat and mobility.  Projects are often multidisciplinary, and involve colleagues in other departments at MSU (Ecology, Earth Science, and Mechanical Engineering) and at other institutions and agencies (MSU-Billings, Idaho State University,  University of Massachusetts, USGS, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service).

Research is typically conducted in field and lab settings, and is often complimented with computational models.  The hydraulics lab at MSU is appropriate for scale model work with a variety of recirculating flumes and pipe systems.  Recent collaborations with the USFWS and USGS have made available much larger hydraulic research facilities that accommodate full-scale studies.  The team frequently relies on 3-D computational fluid dynamics modeling software and has access to the requisite computational resources. 


Representative Publications

Towler, B., J. Cahoon, O. Stein.  2004.  Evapotranspiration coefficients for cattail and bulrush.  ASCE J. Hydrologic Engineering. 9(3):235-239.


Cahoon, J., T, McMahon, L. Rosenthal, M. Blank and O. Stein.  2007. Warm water species fish passage in Eastern Montana culverts.  FHWA/MT-07-009/8182.Burford, D.


Burford, D., T. McMahon, J. Cahoon and M. Blank.  2008.  Assessment of trout passage through culverts in a large Montana drainage during summer low flow.  North American Journal of Fisheries Management.  29:739-752.  


Mason, J., J. Cahoon, M. Blank and D. Schmitz.  2009.  Assessing the potential for contaminated sediment resuspension from a mine impacted wetland.  Montana Water Center Report. No. 234


Plymesser, K., T. Castro-Santos, J. Cahoon and B. Towler.  2014.  Modeling fish passage of American shad in a steeppass fishway using a computational fluid dynamics model.  In preparation.