Yellowstone River Fish Bypass Channel Physical and Hydraulic Monitoring, Montana

Data Report 1189
Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation
By: , and 

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Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, began monitoring the Yellowstone River fish bypass channel according to the specifications of the Lower Yellowstone Adaptive Management and Monitoring Plan. The fish bypass channel was constructed to provide upstream migrating fish with a route around a diversion dam. The objective of this study is to monitor the physical and hydraulic characteristics of the bypass channel, including flow split, minimum depth for the deepest continuous 30 cross sectional feet, and mean channel velocity. Data are collected through several sets of measurements within the bypass channel at varying times during the field season. Physical and hydraulic data collected during this study can be used to ensure the hydraulic design criteria of the bypass channel are being met.

This report presents the methods used to monitor the physical and hydraulic characteristics of the bypass channel. Examples of the types of data collected and summarized as part of this study are provided using three figures and one table. Data collected for this study are summarized and published in an accompanying U.S. Geological Survey data release. The monitoring data can be used by the cooperating agencies to help describe the preferred hydraulic conditions for Scaphirhynchus albus (Forbes and Richardson, 1905; pallid sturgeon) passage.

Introduction

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) Lower Yellowstone Project was authorized in 1902 and provides irrigation water for about 58,000 acres in eastern Montana and western North Dakota (Bureau of Reclamation, 2021). The project includes the Intake Diversion Dam (IDD; fig. 1), a 12-foot (ft) high, 700-ft long wood and stone structure extending across the Yellowstone River channel, which raises the river elevation so water can be diverted into the Lower Yellowstone Project Main Canal (fig. 1). The diverted water is used to irrigate crops such as sugar beets, alfalfa, wheat, barley, and rye; however, the IDD is also a partial or total barrier to the movement upstream or downstream of some fish species and has been hypothesized to be a limitation to the recovery of the endangered Scaphirhynchus albus (Forbes and Richardson, 1905; pallid sturgeon; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014). Monitoring of pallid sturgeon has indicated that these fish do not migrate beyond the IDD, and it is thought that the unimpeded river distance between the IDD and downstream reservoirs is not enough to allow free embryos of pallid sturgeon to naturally drift and mature (Bureau of Reclamation, 2021).

The Intake Diversion Dam and Lower Yellowstone Project Main Canal are to the north,
                     along the Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone River fish bypass channel flows from
                     the Yellowstone River 1.8 miles upstream of the Intake Diversion Dam from south to
                     north where it rejoins the Yellowstone River immediately downstream of the Intake
                     Diversion Dam.
Figure 1.

Location of the Yellowstone River fish bypass channel and Lower Yellowstone Project features in relation to the Yellowstone River, Montana.

In 2019, construction began on a 2.1-mile-long bypass channel around the IDD (fig. 1) with the intention of allowing passage of pallid sturgeon and other fish. During construction of the bypass channel, Reclamation, in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, updated the Lower Yellowstone Adaptive Management and Monitoring Plan (Bureau of Reclamation, 2021) to specify monitoring criteria for the bypass channel. These criteria include the following:

  1. 1. Acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) are used to monitor the physical and hydraulic characteristics of the bypass channel at 14 permanent and 6 random cross sections, with potential for additional cross sections as needed.

  2. 2. Several sets of ADCP measurements are made at different times during the field season (April 1–October 31); each set of measurements includes all 20 cross sections measured on the same day and at the same streamflow for consistency.

  3. 3. The cross sections are measured at least twice during each of the following flow conditions:

    1. a. Prerunoff (April–May): 10,000–20,000 cubic feet per second (ft3/s).

    2. b. Runoff (June–July): greater than 20,000 ft3/s.

    3. c. Postrunoff or summer baseline (August–October): 5,000–10,000 ft3/s.

The monitoring criteria also include the potential for directly monitoring bypass channel hydraulic characteristics in locations where telemetry data indicated congregations of pallid sturgeon.

In the spring of 2022, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Reclamation, began monitoring the bypass channel according to the specifications of the Adaptive Management and Monitoring Plan. This report summarizes the general methods used by the USGS to monitor the physical and hydraulic characteristics of the bypass channel.

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this report is to present methods used by the USGS to monitor hydraulic conditions in the bypass channel around the IDD on the Yellowstone River near Intake, Montana. Monitoring by the USGS began in 2022. Data collected from the 2022 and 2023 monitoring surveys are summarized and published in an accompanying USGS data release (Stephens and Siefken, 2024). This data release is planned to be updated annually as future data are collected. Data from the 2022 and 2023 monitoring surveys are used herein to illustrate how streamflow, channel geometry, and velocity data are collected and summarized in the data release.

Methods

Scientists and engineers use a variety of terms to describe characteristics of a river channel and its streamflow. In this report, the term “bathymetry” refers to the shape (topography) of a stream channel under the water surface and the term “hydraulics” refers to physical attributes of water flow in a stream channel. For monitoring cross sections in the bypass channel and the mainstem Yellowstone River, streamflow and water velocity are the primary measures used herein to describe hydraulic conditions; channel area, width, and depth are the primary measures used herein to describe channel bathymetry.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler Measurements

ADCPs were the primary instruments used to measure channel bathymetry and hydraulic conditions (Stephens and Siefken, 2024). ADCPs emit sound into the water column to measure water velocity via the Doppler effect (Mueller and others, 2013). The sound frequency emitted is dependent on the make and model of the ADCP, and different ADCP instruments are often designed for use in different river conditions (such as different depth, velocity, and clarity). Modern ADCP instruments can often measure velocity and direction of flow at multiple depths within the water column. These data are commonly averaged and binned over some user-defined width and depth interval.

ADCP measurements are typically made by suspending the instrument into the top of the water column and moving it across a span of the river channel in one or more passes perpendicular to the primary flow direction. Because channel hydraulic conditions are always changing, several passes are often made, and the measurements are postprocessed to produce an average of the conditions observed from each pass (Mueller and others, 2013). Additional details on methods used by the USGS to make ADCP measurements are provided in Mueller and others (2013). The USGS also uses a variety of software tools to postprocess ADCP measurement data including QRev (Mueller, 2016), RiverSurveyor LIVE (RSL; Xylem, 2023), and the Velocity Mapping Toolbox (VMT; Parsons and others, 2013). The end product is a rich dataset quantifying the shape of the channel and the spatial variation in flow velocity and direction at the channel cross section.

Cross Sections

ADCP measurements were made at the 14 permanent cross sections and 6 random cross sections. USGS station identifiers (table 1) were established for each cross section in the USGS National Water Information System (U.S. Geological Survey, 2023). The locations of the cross sections were preprogrammed as line features into a controller for a real-time kinematic global navigation satellite system (RTK–GNSS; fig. 2). This controller was then used to guide the location and direction of ADCP transect measurements at each cross section. Typical ADCP cross section measurements consisted of at least four passes and as many as six passes.

Table 1.    

Example of Yellowstone River fish bypass channel monitoring data provided in accompanying U.S. Geological Survey data release (Stephens and Siefken, 2024).

[U.S. Geological Survey station data from U.S. Geological Survey (2023). USGS, U.S. Geological Survey; NWIS, National Water Information System; ID, identifier; MDT, mountain daylight time; ft3/s, cubic foot per second; ft, foot; ft/s, foot per second; ift, international foot; NAD 83, North American Datum of 1983; HARN, High Accuracy Reference Network; NAVD 88, North American Vertical Datum of 1988; NA, not applicable]

Section USGS NWIS station ID Date (month/day/year) Time (MDT) Streamflow (ft3/s) Depth (ft; minimum depth of deepest continous 30 ft) Depth averaged velocity (ft/s) Station (hundreds of feet)1 Left edge northing (ift NAD 83 HARN State Plane Montana) Left edge easting (ift NAD 83 HARN State Plane Montana) Right edge northing (ift NAD 83 HARN State Plane Montana) Right edge easting (ift NAD 83 HARN State Plane Montana) Water surface elevation (ft above NAVD 88) Flow split (percentage of bypass channel flow to total Yellowstone River flow)
P14 06328480 08/31/2023 10:23 7,080 NA 1.73 NA 1138000.75 3191049.72 1137472.36 3190617.08 1,996.17 15.68
P13 471543104330201 08/31/2023 10:50 NA 2.8 3.52 109+00 1137005.41 3195842.82 1136783.98 3195943.18 1,994.17 NA
P12 471545104325701 08/31/2023 11:01 1,150 5.9 2.01 105+00 1137140.98 3196220.55 1136935.73 3196313.58 1,994.14 NA
P11 471546104324601 08/31/2023 11:17 1,110 2.8 3.35 97+00 1137327.13 3197034.11 1137113.8 3197021.25 1,993.55 NA
F9150 471546104323901 08/31/2023 11:36 1,290 3.8 3.26 91+50 1137338 3197551 1137106 3197602 1,992.86 NA
P10 471547104323201 08/31/2023 11:49 1,140 4.7 2.92 87+00 1137505.01 3197920.97 1137329.21 3198038.24 1,992.65 NA
P9 471551104322101 08/31/2023 12:35 1,160 3.9 2.86 79+00 1137846.79 3198684.28 1137630.31 3198700.91 1,992.03 NA
P8 471552104321101 08/31/2023 12:43 1,210 3.7 3.12 71+50 1138041.74 3199311.84 1137849.19 3199470.09 1,991.37 NA
F6200 471600104320401 08/31/2023 12:54 1,140 4.5 2.45 62+00 1138811 3199691 1138751 3199889 1,990.96 NA
P7 471605104320101 08/31/2023 13:02 1,160 3 3.09 56+00 1139389 3199844 1139327 3200063 1,990.61 NA
F4900 471612104320301 08/31/2023 13:10 1,170 3.7 3.75 49+00 1139948 3199726 1140074 3199926 1,990.11 NA
P6 471616104320501 08/31/2023 13:17 1,050 3.6 3.18 45+00 1140298.94 3199532.53 1140408.37 3199706.13 1,989.76 NA
P5 471626104321301 08/31/2023 13:36 1,190 3.2 3.52 33+50 1141324.44 3198946.33 1141381.08 3199187.09 1,988.91 NA
F3000 471629104321201 08/31/2023 13:41 1,330 3 3.73 30+00 1141712 3198947 1141678 3199171 1,988.45 NA
P4 471636104321001 08/31/2023 13:48 1,210 3.3 3.49 23+00 1142405.45 3199039.33 1142371.55 3199263.21 1,988.07 NA
P3 471642104320101 08/31/2023 13:59 1,140 3.9 3.93 13+00 1143188.39 3199742.7 1142952.96 3199808.4 1,987.01 NA
F700 471643104315201 08/31/2023 14:04 1,150 4.5 2.78 7+00 1143354 3200319 1143134 3200381 1,986.68 NA
P2 471644104314901 08/31/2023 14:10 1,060 4.9 2.5 4+50 1143410.35 3200532.09 1143190.04 3200593.57 1,986.64 NA
P1 471645104314501 08/31/2023 14:26 NA 3.8 2.78 2+00 1143522.69 3200791.43 1143269.67 3200862.04 1,986.51 NA
F000 471645104314201 08/31/2023 14:39 NA 10.2 1.43 0+00 1143604 3200977 1143241 3201078 1,985.88 NA
Table 1.    Example of Yellowstone River fish bypass channel monitoring data provided in accompanying U.S. Geological Survey data release (Stephens and Siefken, 2024).
1

Construction stationing in hundreds of feet. The relative position of the cross section along the centerline of the Yellowstone River fish bypass channel.

Velocity

Channel velocity characteristics are quantified and summarized using a combination of summary statistics and graphical depictions (Stephens and Siefken, 2024). The mean cross sectional water velocity (depth averaged velocity, table 1) of each surveyed cross section in the bypass channel and at the entrance and exit of the channel is determined from the QRev software as an average of all passes collected at each section. The VMT software was used to process RSL Microsoft Access table files and produce a heat map showing the average shape of the channel and spatial distribution of water velocities at each cross section (fig. 2).

Streamwise velocity is greatest at about 40 to 80 feet from the left bank of the bypass
                           channel.
Figure 2.

Example of water velocity heat map profile for the Yellowstone River fish bypass channel, Montana.

The RSL Microsoft Access table files were also used to produce water velocity stick plan maps (fig. 3) in ArcGIS (Esri, 2023). These maps depict a plan view of the average velocity magnitude and direction within horizontally spaced samples at individual cross sections. Horizontal spacing is determined by applying an averaging time in the VMT Geographic Information System Export Tool. The averaging time to obtain 12–15 velocity vectors varies from survey to survey. The velocity vector sticks are useful for identifying the locations of the channel thalweg and changes in channel flow direction when compared with other surveys.

Velocity sticks are located at data collection points in the Yellowstone River fish
                           bypass channel in plain view.
Figure 3.

Example of georeferenced water velocity stick map for the Yellowstone River fish bypass channel, Montana. Warmer colors (red, orange, and yellow) and longer vectors (sticks) indicate higher water velocities than cooler colors (green and blue) and shorter vectors.

Streamflow

Streamflow (table 1) was computed for all surveyed cross sections except for those surveyed near the bypass channel entrance and exit. Streamflow was computed by postprocessing ADCP pass data in the QRev software (Mueller, 2016). The QRev software produces a final estimate of mean streamflow, as well as a measure of the uncertainty of the mean, depicted as the estimated 95-percent uncertainty. The estimated 95-percent uncertainty in the QRev software combines the random uncertainty, invalid data uncertainty, edge Q (cross section edge streamflow) uncertainty, extrapolation uncertainty, moving-bed test uncertainty, and systematic uncertainty (Mueller, 2016).

Flow Split

Flow split (table 1) was calculated as a percentage of the bypass channel streamflow to the total Yellowstone River streamflow. Total Yellowstone River streamflow was determined by the ADCP measurements collected at permanent cross section 14 at Yellowstone River mile 74 (Stephens and Siefken, 2024; fig. 3). The bypass channel streamflow was determined at the seasonal USGS streamgage located in the bypass channel (Yellowstone River fish bypass channel near Intake, Mont.; USGS station 06328495; fig. 1; U.S. Geological Survey, 2023) using the computed unit discharge value closest to the mean time of the measurement collected at Yellowstone River mile 74.

Bathymetry

The minimum depth (depth, table 1) for the deepest continuous 30-ft-wide stretch of surveyed cross section was determined from the most representative transect using the VMT Geographic Information System Export Tool with no averaging (Mueller, 2016) for each cross section. An algorithm was created using the R programming language (version 4.3.1; R Core Team, 2023) to determine the minimum depth for each 30-ft-wide section within the cross section starting with the first ADCP ensemble on the left bank. Four to six transects were collected with the ADCP at each cross section, each of which likely contains some random error; therefore, the representative transect used to determine bathymetry parameters is the transect that best represents the channel shape and velocity distribution as determined by the operator.

Water Surface Elevation

Water surface elevation (table 1) is the reference elevation for channel bathymetry measured at each cross section. This elevation is defined as the height of the water surface relative to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988. The water surface elevation for each cross section was determined by obtaining global positioning system (GPS) measurements with a survey rod along the edge of water or by using the height of the GPS antenna above the water surface elevation when using the GPS for ADCP navigation. The RTK–GNSS was used following USGS GPS survey techniques outlined in Rydlund and Densmore (2012). Control point 19, established by Reclamation, was used as vertical control for the RTK–GNSS surveys. All surveys were done using GEOID09 with Montana Federal Information Processing Standard 2500 State Plane coordinate projection.

Summary

In the spring of 2022, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, began monitoring the Yellowstone River fish bypass channel according to the specifications of the Adaptive Management and Monitoring Plan. The fish bypass channel was constructed to provide upstream migrating fish with a route around a diversion dam. The objective of this study is to monitor the physical and hydraulic characteristics of the bypass channel, including flow split, minimum depth for the deepest continuous 30 cross sectional feet, and the mean channel velocity. Data are collected through several sets of measurements at different times during the field season (April 1 to October 31). These data can be used to ensure that the hydraulic design criteria of the bypass channel are being met.

This report describes the methods used to monitor the physical and hydraulic characteristics of the bypass channel at 14 permanent and 6 random cross sections. Examples of the types of data collected and summarized for this study are described in the report, including a water velocity heat map profile, a georeferenced water velocity stick map, and a summary table of the hydraulic properties determined at all permanent and random cross sections. Data collected for this study are summarized and published in an accompanying U.S. Geological Survey data release. The monitoring data can be used by the cooperating agencies to help correlate hydraulic characteristics of the bypass channel to Scaphirhynchus albus (Forbes and Richardson, 1905; pallid sturgeon) passage.

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge with appreciation the many individuals who assisted in this study. Particular thanks are extended to Brian L. Loving, Stacy M. Kinsey, Paul M. Scarpari, and Aroscott Whiteman of the U.S. Geological Survey.

References Cited

Bureau of Reclamation, 2021, Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam Fish Passage Project—Adaptive Management and Monitoring Plan: Billings, Mont., Bureau of Reclamation, Montana Area Office, 85 p., accessed December 7, 2023, at https://www.usbr.gov/gp/mtao/loweryellowstone/docs/may2021_lower_yellowstone_adaptive_management_monitoring_plan.pdf.

Esri, 2023, ArcGIS for desktop: Esri software release, accessed October 1, 2023, at https://www.arcgis.com/index.html.

Mueller, D.S., 2016, QRev—Software for computation and quality assurance of acoustic Doppler current profiler moving-boat streamflow measurements—User’s manual for version 2.8: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1052, 50 p., accessed December 7, 2023, at https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161052.

Mueller, D.S., Wagner, C.R., Rehmel, M.S., Oberg, K.A., and Rainville, F., 2013, Measuring discharge with acoustic Doppler current profilers from a moving boat (ver. 2.0, December 2013): U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 3, chap. A22, 95 p., accessed December 7, 2023, at https://doi.org/10.3133/tm3A22.

Parsons, D.R., Jackson, P.R., Czuba, J.A., Engel, F.L., Rhoads, B.L., Oberg, K.A., Best, J.L., Mueller, D.S., Johnson, K.K., and Riley, J.D., 2013, Velocity Mapping Toolbox (VMT)—A processing and visualization suite for moving-vessel ADCP measurements: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, v. 38, no. 11, p. 1244–1260, accessed December 7, 2023, at https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.3367.

R Core Team, 2023, R—A language and environment for statistical computing (ver. 4.3.1): R Foundation for Statistical Computing software release, accessed June 16, 2023, at https://www.r-project.org/.

Rydlund, P.H., Jr., and Densmore, B.K., 2012, Methods of practice and guidelines for using survey-grade global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to establish vertical datum in the United States Geological Survey: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 11, chap. D1, 102 p. with appendixes, accessed December 7, 2023, at https://doi.org/10.3133/tm11D1.

Stephens, J.B., and Siefken, S.A., 2024, Physical and hydraulic monitoring on the Yellowstone River fish bypass channel, Montana, May 2022 to August 2023: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/P9Q1TR1U.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014, Revised recovery plan for the Pallid Sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus): Denver, Colo., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mountain-Prairie Region, 115 p., accessed December 7, 2023, at http://www.pallidsturgeon.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Pallid-Sturgeon-Recovery-Plan-First-Revision-signed-version-012914_3.pdf.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2023, USGS 06328495 Yellowstone River fish bypass channel near Intake, MT, in USGS water data for the Nation: U.S. Geological Survey National Water Information System database, accessed December 8, 2023, at https://doi.org/10.5066/F7P55KJN. [Site information directly accessible at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/monitoring-location/06328495/#parameterCode=00065&period=P7D&showMedian=true.]

Xylem, 2023, SonTek RiverSurveyor LIVE: Xylem web page, accessed December 5, 2023, at https://www.xylem.com/en-us/products--services/software/riversurveyor-live-rsl/.

Conversion Factors

U.S. customary units to International System of Units

Multiply By To obtain
Area
acre 0.004047 square kilometer (km2)
Length
foot (ft) 0.3048 meter (m)
mile (mi) 1.609 kilometer (km)
Flow rate
foot per second (ft/s) 0.3048 meter per second (m/s)
cubic foot per second (ft3/s) 0.02832 cubic meter per second (m3/s)

Datum

Vertical coordinate information is referenced to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88).

Horizontal coordinate information is referenced to the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83).

Supplemental Information

Streamflow is given in cubic feet per second (ft3/s).

Abbreviations

ADCP

acoustic Doppler current profiler

GPS

global positioning system

IDD

Intake Diversion Dam

Reclamation

Bureau of Reclamation

RSL

RiverSurveyor LIVE

RTK–GNSS

real-time kinematic global navigation satellite system

USGS

U.S. Geological Survey

VMT

Velocity Mapping Toolbox

For more information about this publication, contact:

Director, USGS Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center

3162 Bozeman Avenue

Helena, MT 59601

406–457–5900

For additional information, visit: https://www.usgs.gov/centers/wy-mt-water/

Publishing support provided by the

Rolla Publishing Service Center

Disclaimers

Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Although this information product, for the most part, is in the public domain, it also may contain copyrighted materials as noted in the text. Permission to reproduce copyrighted items must be secured from the copyright owner.

Suggested Citation

Stephens, J.B., Alexander, J.S., and Siefken, S.A., 2024, Yellowstone River fish bypass channel physical and hydraulic monitoring, Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Data Report 1189, 8 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/dr1189.

ISSN: 2771-9448 (online)

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Yellowstone River fish bypass channel physical and hydraulic monitoring, Montana
Series title Data Report
Series number 1189
DOI 10.3133/dr1189
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center
Description Report: iv, 8 p.; Data Release; Dataset
Country United States
State Montana
Other Geospatial Yellowstone River Intake Diversion Dam
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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