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Open-File Report 2014–1171

Prepared in cooperation with the Kansas Water Office

Relations Between Continuous Real-Time Turbidity Data and Discrete Suspended-Sediment Concentration Samples in the Neosho and Cottonwood Rivers, East-Central Kansas, 2009–2012

By Guy M. Foster

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (11.3 MB)Abstract

The Neosho River and its primary tributary, the Cottonwood River, are the primary sources of inflow to the John Redmond Reservoir in east-central Kansas. Sedimentation rate in the John Redmond Reservoir was estimated as 743 acre-feet per year for 1964–2006. This estimated sedimentation rate is more than 80 percent larger than the projected design sedimentation rate of 404 acre-feet per year, and resulted in a loss of 40 percent of the conservation pool since its construction in 1964. To reduce sediment input into the reservoir, the Kansas Water Office implemented stream bank stabilization techniques along an 8.3 mile reach of the Neosho River during 2010 through 2011. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Kansas Water Office and funded in part through the Kansas State Water Plan Fund, operated continuous real-time water-quality monitors upstream and downstream from stream bank stabilization efforts before, during, and after construction. Continuously measured water-quality properties include streamflow, specific conductance, water temperature, and turbidity. Discrete sediment samples were collected from June 2009 through September 2012 and analyzed for suspended-sediment concentration (SSC), percentage of sediments less than 63 micrometers (sand-fine break), and loss of material on ignition (analogous to amount of organic matter). Regression models were developed to establish relations between discretely measured SSC samples, and turbidity or streamflow to estimate continuously SSC. Continuous water-quality monitors represented between 96 and 99 percent of the cross-sectional variability for turbidity, and had slopes between 0.91 and 0.98. Because consistent bias was not observed, values from continuous water-quality monitors were considered representative of stream conditions. On average, turbidity-based SSC models explained 96 percent of the variance in SSC. Streamflow-based regressions explained 53 to 60 percent of the variance. Mean squared prediction error for turbidity-based regression relations ranged from -32 to 48 percent, whereas mean square prediction error for streamflow-based regressions ranged from -69 to 218 percent. These models are useful for evaluating the variability of SSC during rapidly changing conditions, computing loads and yields to assess SSC transport through the watershed, and for providing more accurate load estimates compared to streamflow-only based estimation methods used in the past. These models can be used to evaluate the efficacy of streambank stabilization efforts.

First posted October 9, 2014

For additional information contact:
Director, Kansas Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
4821 Quail Crest Place
Lawrence, KS 66049

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Suggested citation:

Foster, G.M., 2014, Relations between continuous real-time turbidity data and discrete suspended-sediment concentration samples in the Neosho and Cottonwood Rivers, East-Central Kansas, 2009–2012: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1171, 20 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)





Regression Model Results for Suspended-Sediment Concentration


References Cited

Appendix 1. Complete Review Package for Neosho River at Burlingame Road near Emporia, Kansas

Appendix 2. Complete Review Package for Cottonwood River near Neosho Rapids, Kansas

Appendix 3. Complete Review Package for Neosho River at Neosho Rapids, Kansas

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