Archive for the ‘monitoring’ Category

Wendi Goldsmith is the CEO of the Bioengineering Group and has recently published a book, Bioengineering Case Studies with some her colleagues through Springer.  This book includes a number of case studies and highlights several stream bank slope stabilization techniques whereby best practice techniques were used.

The release of this book is timely as this past fall, the Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologic Engineering Center announced in its Fall 2013 newsletter that the bank stability analysis model, BSTEM, will be incorporated into HEC-RAS.  One aspect of BSTEM that sounds intriguing is that it can compare factor of safety values for existing conditions and banks that have been subjected to stabilization methods. Until now, HEC-RAS has only been able to assess scour/incision vertically. With the incorporation of BSTEM, it seems as though lateral erosion can be modeled as well.

Another worthwhile read recently released is the MA Department of Fish & Game Division of Ecological Restoration’s 2013 Annual Report which is focused on the value of restoration and is available as a pdf here.


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Pre and post project photographic monitoring has been around for a while.  I’ve seen some drab appendix tables that list the lat/long and the azimuth for where each photograph was taken. I’ve also seen photographs jammed into an appendix as well. Why not take a more modern approach using the features ArcGIS.com and photo hosting services such as Flickr or PicassaWeb? Assuming you have your lat/long, azimuth and photo filename in Excel, a pretty powerful online map can be made that shows where each photo was taken, the direction of the photo and the photo itself in a map that can be panned and zoomed and presumably have a recent aerial photo basemap.

Here are three ESRI blog posts that can help make such a map:

How to configure pop-ups:

Adding photos from Flickr, PicassaWeb or WindowsLive

Rotating arrows to show azimuth:

If you have an ArcGIS.com organization prescription, then you can take the map you’ve made with all your georeferenced photos, configured pop-ups and arrows showing the photo azimuth and then put that dynamic map into a PowerPoint presentation. Pretty cool!

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I’m an active voluneer for the Ipswich River Watershed Association. One of their programs is a volunteer monitoring program that collects temperature and dissolved oxygen at over thirty sites throughout the watershed once a month.  Now that several years of data have been collected, a nice data set has been developed.  I also follow some of the developments that CUASHI HIS has undertaken, namely the development of HydroDesktop and the WaterML standard.  In the past month, the monitoring data have been put onto CUASHI’s servers and now when one searches for either dissolved oxygen or temperature in the Ipswich River watershed using HydroDesktop, all the monitoring locations show up and the data can be downloaded.  I think that’s a great development for the program.  Way to go IRWA!

There are several professors at universities around the country who are active with CUASHI HIS, there is a CUASHI offices in Medford, MA and Washington D.C and the company Kisters is also active with the CUASHI HIS community.  The point being, if you are aware of some water quality monitoring that is being collected on your stream or river of interest, there are plenty of resources available to help you get your data published and made available to a wider audience.

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Admittedly, Cellular-News.com is not exactly on the top of my list for news sources.


Nevertheless, I did find this article interesting and I’m quite interested to see how this sensor technology develops.  I do wish the article could have had a graphic or two that shows how some of the data are being displayed.  These sensors and the data they collect could provide some innovative ways to assess stream restoration projects.

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The USGS has put out a nice video document some of the issues that urban stream face here:


The video touches on the importance of healthy streams and briefly shows some of the steps being taken to improve instream habitat and water quality in a few select places around the country.

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I haven’t written anything to date for this analysis.  I’ve simply manipulated data from the USGS Suspended Sediment Database and summarized them in a spreadsheet available from the Ohio DNR and made a map.  The watersheds that are delineated in the map were made using EPA Watershed Delineation add-on in HydroDesktop.  The one data point that jumps out at me is the 1982 annual load for the Salmon River: 1,158 tons/mi2/yr, 96% of which occurred on June 5th and 6th. (Granted, the record that year only had 245 days of data, and no data were collected on June 4th). In any event, the number is still quite large and puts it in league with some of the larger annual loads I saw while working in coastal northern California, an area known for its high sediment loads.  The subsequent question that makes me curious is how did the channel respond to this flood in early June, 1982?  I have to assume that the massive load of sediment was deposited somewhere, but I also have to assume that much of bed and banks were scoured. The Google Earth imagery goes back to 1990 and it suggests a fairly stable single thread channel that hasn’t migrated much in the past two decades.  The vast majority of the floodplain appears forested, so my assumption is that much of the suspended sediment was deposited on the floodplain on the receding limb of the storm event or it was simply carried downstream to the Connecticut River.

(Circling back to the Allen Brook analysis, these results from CT gauges make me question  all the more the estimated sediment loads using the SWAT model for subbasins 1, 3, 4 an d 22 which supposedly were generating annual loads in excess of 5,ooo tons per square mile.  As consulting colleague of mine in California once said to me, “Beware the uncalibrated model.”)

The other bit of insight I gleaned from these data are how episodic the pulses of suspended sediment are in New England.  Granted, the data are limited: only 3 gauges had 5 or more years of nearly complete (360+ days of data for a given water year).  Nevertheless, it still suggests to me that most rivers are relatively calm and not transporting an inordinate amount of suspended sediment and then WHAM!, a large and rare event occurs that has the ability to deliver a substantial amount of sediment, well outside the range of normal annual load variability (very roughly speaking 20 to 100 tons/mi2/yr).

I also used the Effective Discharge from Suspended Sediment spreadsheet available from the Ohio DNR here.  Unfortunately, I’ve never quite gotten the gist of the spreadsheet, despite looking at it and reviewing the hidden Calculation Table tab.  In any event, I’ve plugged in the data for the eight CT gauges.  The hyperlink in the first column should take you to the USGS data, and the hyperlink on the right should take you to the spreadsheet I’ve saved on Box.net.  Each spreadsheet is just under 6Mb and is saved in .xlsm format to save space and to allow the macros that Dan Mecklenburg at the Ohio DNR developed to be functional.

Station Number
(USGS Link)

Station Name
(Effective Discharge Spreadsheet Link)


Muddy Brook At Childs Hill Rd Nr Woodstock, CT


Yantic R At Yantic, CT


Stony Bk Nr West Suffield, CT


Scantic R At Broad Brook, CT


Coginchaug River At Middlefield, CT


Salmon R Nr East Hampton, CT


Housatonic R At Falls Village, CT


Housatonic R At Gaylordsville, CT

It is at this point that I’m seeking some help.  If anyone has some insight into how to reasonably estimate effective discharge for any of these gauges based on the available data, I would love for you to contact me.  Please feel free to use the comment section.

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The subcommittee on sedimentation is in the early stages of creating a database of geomorphic observations.  It’s an attempt at getting data such as field notes, field maps, pebble counts, cross sections and longitudinal profile data into one searchable database. Clearly, it’s not an easy task.  There is an existing effort that has been established through the Vigil Network that the group intends to build upon.  I’ve plotted the location of these sites using ArcGIS.com.

View Larger Map

For fluvial geomorphologists, this is an exiting effort.  I wish the group the best of luck!

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