Field deployment of a continuous sediment load surrogate
The transport of sediment in rivers is a critical question for managers concerned with river
restoration, irrigation and water diversion projects, and water quality. To understand the
relationship between water and sediment requires the collection of data. How sediment is
transported in rivers, through irrigation facilities, and into reservoirs is a growing area of
interest for Reclamation managers. Over the decades, the techniques for collecting sediment
data have been refined [4, 7, 8, 9], and more recently surrogate techniques have expanded the
temporal range of the collected data. One of the more promising suspended sediment surrogate
technologies is active acoustics, which has been successfully tested in a variety of fluvial
environments, including gravel  and sand  bed rivers. The majority of the testing on the
sand bed rivers has been in large rivers (like the Colorado or the Green) that have sufficient
depth of flow to separate out the effects of bed load and suspended load. Testing on shallow
sand bed rivers though has been limited to areas where the local geology provides a sufficient
flow depth at various discharge stages. But what if the local geology doesn't afford this
opportunity; will the developed acoustical techniques [13, 14] still work? Can these acoustical
setups capture continuous suspended sediment load information over the range of expected
discharge stages? The premise of this research proposal is that the Middle Rio Grande (MRG) is
an ideal testing ground to answer these questions. The high suspended sediment load of
uncontrolled tributaries to the Rio Grande also allows examination of the upper limitations for
suspended sediment concentration measurements with the acoustical instruments.
Need and Benefit
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