U.S. Geological Survey

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by Rocky O. Powell, Sarah J. Miller, Britt E. Westergard, Christiane I. Mulvihill, Barry P. Baldigo, Anne S. Gallagher, and Richard R. Starr

Open-File Report 03-092


Many disturbed streams within New York State are being restored in an effort to provide bank and bed stability and thereby decrease sedimentation and erosion. Efforts to identify and provide accurate indicators for stable-channel characteristics for ungaged streams have been hampered by the lack of regional equations or relations that relate drainage area to bankfull discharge and to channel depth, width, and cross-sectional area (bankfull hydraulic-geometry relations). Regional equations are needed to confirm bankfull hydraulic-geometry, assess stream stability, evaluate restoration needs, and verify restoration design for ungaged streams that lack stage-to-discharge ratings or historic peak-flow records. 

This report presents guidelines for surveying bankfull channel geometry at USGS stream gages and developing regional hydraulic-geometry relations (equations) for wadeable streams in New York. It summarizes methods to (1) compile and assess existing hydrologic, geometric, photographic, and topographic data, (2) conduct stream-reconnaissance inspections, (3) identify channel-bankfull characteristics, (4) conduct longitudinal and cross-section surveys, (5) measure stream discharge, (6) develop and refine bankfull hydraulic-geometry equations, and (7) analyze and assure data completeness and quality. The techniques primarily address wadeable streams with either active or discontinued surface-water and crest-stage gages. The relations can be applied to ungaged or actively gaged streams that are wadeable, and may be extended to non-wadeable streams (with some limitations) if they have drainage areas comparable to those used to develop the relations. 

Citation: Powell, R.O., Miller, S.J., Westergard, B.E., Mulvihill, C.I., Baldigo, B.P., Gallagher, A.S., and Starr, R.R., 2004, Guidelines for Surveying Bankfull Channel Geometry and Developing Regional Hydraulic-Geometry Relations for Streams of New York State: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 03-092, 20 p.

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URL: http://ny.water.usgs.gov/pubs/of/of03092/index.html
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