USGS Washington Water Science Center
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9722-CBC - Sediment Stations
Problem - Water resource planning and water-quality assessment require a nationwide base level of relatively standardized information. Sediment concentrations and discharges in rivers and streams must be defined and monitored.
Objectives - To provide a national bank of sediment data for use in broad Federal and State planning and action programs and to provide data for Federal management of interstate and international waters.
Relevance and Benefits - An important part of the USGS mission is to provide scientific information to manage the water resources of the Nation. As part of its efforts to effectively assess the Nation's surface-water resources, the USGS collects sediment data at a 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. Long-term sediment records help to characterize geomorphological and physical channel changes in watersheds, evaluate the effects of best management practices, and predict filling rates of reservoirs used for flood control, irrigation, and water supply. Sediment data are also critical to the evaluation of physical habitat for aquatic life in our Nation's waterways. Sediment is a principal carrier of pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants in streams. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported that sediment in its various forms is the single, most-cited reason for streams not meeting their designated use criteria and consequently being placed on the 303(d) list. The sediment data collected in this State are an integral part of a continuing assessment of the sediment transport characteristics of the Nation's rivers.
Approach - Establish and operate a network of sediment stations to provide spatial and temporal averages and trends of sediment concentration, sediment discharge, and particle size of sediment being transported by rivers and streams.