USGS Washington Water Science Center
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Long-term records of the concentrations and transport of sediment in rivers and streams are needed to help characterize changes in the geomorphology and stream channels in watersheds, to evaluate the effects of best management practices, and to predict filling rates of reservoirs used for flood control, irrigation, and water supply. Sediment data also are critical for evaluating physical habitat for aquatic life in our Nation's waterways, and sediment is a principal carrier of pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants in streams. Water-resource planning and water-quality assessment require a nationwide database of relatively standardized information.
To provide scientific information to manage the water resources of the Nation, the USGS collects sediment data at a nationwide network of about 700 stations on major rivers and streams. Sediment data are collected daily at about 150 of these stations; monthly and high-flow samples are collected at other stations. Sediment data are published in annual data reports, and increasingly are available on the World Wide Web. The data, collected using standardized instruments and procedures, contribute to a nationally consistent data set for the assessment of selected water resources of the Nation. The sediment data collected in Washington are an integral part of this data set.