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Using Geomorphology to Assess and Manage the Risks Associated with Clean Sediments in the Little Miami River Watershed (Southwestern OH)

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  701P0904,  . (doi: 10.13031/2013.17437)
Authors:   Christopher Schultz, Joseph Schubauer-Berigan, Matthew Morrison, Bernie Daniel, Michael Troyer and Michael Griffith

We are evaluating the use of stream geomorphology and related measurements in the assessment and management of channel risks associated with stream impairment associated with clean sediments. The relationships between various geomorphological variables have been used by Rosgen and others to classify streams into groups that can be related to sediment transport or to bed and bank stability. These methods may be used to predict and evaluate the sensitivity of stream reaches to altered hydrologic regimes that subsequently result in bank destabilization and excessive sediment transport. Factors, such as increased erosion and stream channel destabilization, can result in impairment by excessive clean sediment. This project is intended to determine (1) the most effective, timely and cost-efficient methods for collecting channel morphology data, and (2) which variables may be used as indicators of increased risk of impairment from suspended and bedded sediments. Previous research in the Little Miami River (Southwestern Ohio) established thirty-five sites where data was collected for several years using the U.S. EPA Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program protocols. Eight of these sites were selected for intensive surveying to determine the level of effort required to obtain representative data for stream classification. Slope and sinuosity measurements from the surveys resulted in the same Rosgen stream classification as that determined from measurements from aerial photographs and topographic maps. This indicates that these types of data may be used in place of extensive surveying at least in Southwestern Ohio. Other measurements such as pebble counts, entrenchment and stream profile still require field visits. The extent to which a qualitative rating system can be used is also being evaluated. The most important parameters for determining the stability of stream geomorphology and near-stream erosion risks appear to be slope, bed and bank material stability, incision and vegetative cover/type in the riparian zone.

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