Utilizing Hydrophones to Detect Streambed Mobilization in the Wild and Scenic Reach of the Rio Chama

Project ID: 21092
Principal Investigator: Rebecca Braz
Research Topic: Sediment Management and River Restoration
Funded Fiscal Years: 2021 and 2022
Keywords: None

Research Question

The area for this research would be a site referred to as "Archuleta" located approximately 7.3 miles downstream of El Vado Dam. Hydrophone systems would be placed in various locations within the Archuleta site. Continuous data collection would occur and sediment samples would be taken at each hydrophone site at the beginning and end of the data collection period to provide another means of evaluating if and what changes occurred in the streambed during higher flows. A turbidity monitor would also be installed at the Archuleta site to give insight into fine sediment transport; this would be compared to the coarse sediment transport information recorded by the hydrophones. Through the collection and analysis of this data, it is the intention of this proposal to better understand the range of flows that will initiate and most effectively mobilize streambed sediments for the benefit of brown trout in the Rio Chama and to advance the research of using hydrophones for this purpose.

Need and Benefit

The Rio Chama is a tributary of the Rio Grande in northwestern New Mexico. The Chama receives a combination of native water and inter-basin transfer water from the San Juan-Chama Project. Because of climate change, native water flows in the Rio Chama are expected to decrease by one-third and inter-basin transfer flows by one-quarter over the next century. The stretch of the Rio Chama between El Vado Dam and Abiquiu Dam was designated Wild and Scenic in 1988. This stretch of the Rio Chama is a high-sediment system with a significant amount of fine sand, silt and clay (mud) deposited on gravel-cobble (coarse) bed material. This mud restricts oxygen transport in the gravel streambed, reducing food sources and affecting spawning habitat of the brown trout, a key species in the designation of the Wild and Scenic reach.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20