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U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5190


Hydraulic Geometry Characteristics of Continuous-Record Streamflow-Gaging Stations on Four Urban Watersheds Along the Main Stem of Gwynns Falls, Baltimore County and Baltimore City, Maryland

By Edward J. Doheny and Gary T. Fisher

 

Cover of Sir-2006-5140

Abstract

Four continuous-record streamflow-gaging stations are currently being operated by the U.S. Geological Survey on the main stem of Gwynns Falls in western Baltimore County and Baltimore City, Maryland. The four streamflow-gaging stations drain urban or suburban watersheds with significantly different drainage areas. In addition to providing continuous- record discharge data at these four locations, operation of these stations also provides a long-term record of channel geometry variables such as cross-sectional area, channel width, mean channel depth, and mean velocity that are obtained from physical measurement of the discharge at a variety of flow conditions.

Hydraulic geometry analyses were performed using discharge-measurement data from four continuous-record streamflow-gaging stations on the main stem of Gwynns Falls. Simple linear regression was used to develop relations that (1) quantify changes in cross-sectional area, channel width, mean channel depth, and mean velocity with changes in discharge at each station, and (2) quantify changes in these variables in the Gwynns Falls watershed with changes in drainage area and annual mean discharge.

Results of the hydraulic geometry analyses indicated that mean velocity is more responsive to changes in discharge than channel width and mean channel depth for all four streamflow-gaging stations on the main stem of Gwynns Falls. For the two largest and most developed watersheds, on Gwynns Falls at Villa Nova, and Gwynns Falls at Washington Boulevard at Baltimore, the slope of the regression lines, or hydraulic exponents, indicated that mean velocity was more responsive to changes in discharge than any of the other hydraulic variables that were analyzed. This was true even when considering changes in cross-sectional area with discharge, which incorporates the combined effects of channel width and mean channel depth.

A comparison of hydraulic exponents for Gwynns Falls to average values from previous work indicated that the velocity exponents for all four stations on the Gwynns Falls are larger than the average value of 0.34. For stations 01589300 and 01589352, the exponents for mean velocity are about twice as large as the average value.

Analyses of cross-sectional area, channel width, mean channel depth, and mean velocity in conjunction with changes in drainage area and annual mean discharge indicated that channel width is much more responsive to changes in drainage area and annual mean discharge than are mean channel depth or mean velocity. Cross-sectional area, which combines the effects of channel width and mean channel depth, was also found to be highly responsive to changes in drainage area and annual mean discharge.


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