Federal Interagency Sedimentation Project

Project ID: 2559
Principal Investigator: Robert Hilldale
Research Topic: Sediment Management and River Restoration
Funded Fiscal Years: 2013, 2014 and 2015
Keywords: fisp, surrogate sediment meawsurement, bed load, suspended load, hydroacousticss

Research Question

The Nation faces critical environmental concerns that include the influence of fluvial sediment on the navigation of rivers, reservoir storage, hydropower production, aquatic habitat, bridge pier and abutment stability, stream restoration, flood mitigation, and sediment-associated pollutants. Accurate knowledge of sediment characteristics and transport is critical to the mission of Reclamation and several other Federal agencies to properly respond to sediment-related impacts. Instrumentation that consistently and accurately measures sediment and sediment-related contaminants in the Nation's waters are the foundation of understanding and responding to these issues.

Since 1947 the Federal Interagency Sedimentation Project (FISP) has developed many types of sediment samplers to meet the needs of sedimentation engineers and scientists. These samplers have been primarily directed at the measurement of suspended sediment load, with little emphasis on bed load. Considering the advances in technology, the time has come to advance the science of sediment measurement, for both bed load and suspended load using surrogate technologies. These surrogate technologies include, but are not limited to; acoustics (both passive and active, single- and multi- frequency), radar, instrumented steel plates and pipes (impact sensors), hydrophone listening devices, repeat SONAR surveys, bed load traps, RFID tagging, magnetic tracking, sediment tracers, and laser technology.

Need and Benefit

Obtaining sediment transport and water quality data from streams entering and leaving Reclamation facilities is essential to perform many of the analyses needed to effectively operate, maintain, and sustain power and water delivery facilities. Every year, Reclamation funds data collection efforts in streams and at existing gaging stations to obtain sediment data for a variety of analyses. Sediment data are used throughout Reclamation to quantify and predict sediment volumes flowing into and out of reservoirs and diversion facilities, to estimate bridge scour and channel degradation, to monitor construction impacts, and to design sediment detention structures, channel and habitat restoration features, and channel bank and bed stabilization works. This research will produce increasingly more accurate and economical equipment and methodologies to ultimately increase the amount of sediment data available and potentially reduce the cost of data collection and management solutions. Many studies are now being conducted with little or no actual sediment data because data are unavailable or too costly to obtain. Often for safety reasons, sediment transport data are not collected during peak flow events; on average, especially in the west, it is the peak flow events that transport the majority of the sediment load. The development of new technologies that can automatically and continuously collect accurate sediment data for calculating sediment transport would benefit resource managers in all federal agencies. The availability of accurate sediment and water quality data is essential for the effective and defensible analysis of sediment transport.

The activities of the FISP can be followed on the FISP website (http://water.usgs.gov/fisp/). The website includes a host of information, such as; current and past research projects, calls for proposals, meeting minutes, information and other resources related to sediment data collection, proceedings from the Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, and much more.
The FISP Chief is the only salaried position in the FISP, which is supported by the USGS. Participation by agency representatives is supported by each agency separate from agency contributions, maximizing the benefit from contributing agencies that is applied to funded research.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

The results of the FISP funded research are published on the FISP website.

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Last Updated: 11/15/16