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Morphological Analyses and Simulated Flood Elevations in a Watershed with Dredged and Leveed Stream Channels, Wheeling Creek, Eastern Ohio

U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008–5133

By James M. Sherwood, Carrie A. Huitger, Andrew D. Ebner, and G.F. Koltun

In cooperation with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency


This report is available below as a 67–page PDF for viewing and printing.


Abstract

The USGS, in cooperation with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, conducted a study in the Wheeling Creek Basin to (1) evaluate and contrast land-cover characteristics from 2001 with characteristics from 1979 and 1992; (2) compare current streambed elevation, slope, and geometry with conditions present in the late 1980s; (3) look for evidence of channel filling and over widening in selected undredged reaches; (4) estimate flood elevations for existing conditions in both undredged and previously dredged reaches; (5) evaluate the height of the levees required to contain floods with selected recurrence intervals in previously dredged reaches; and (6) estimate flood elevations for several hypothetical dredging and streambed aggradation scenarios in undredged reaches.

The amount of barren land in the Wheeling Creek watershed has decreased from 20 to 1 percent of the basin area based on land-cover characteristics from 1979 and 2001. Barren lands appear to have been converted primarily to pasture, presumably as a result of surface-mine reclamation. Croplands also decreased from 13 to 8 percent of the basin area. The combined decrease in barren lands and croplands is approximately offset by the increase in pasture.

Stream-channel surveys conducted in 1987 and again in 2006 at 21 sites in four previously dredged reaches of Wheeling Creek indicate little change in the elevation, slope, and geometry of the channel at most sites. The mean change in width-averaged bed and thalweg elevations for the 21 cross sections was 0.1 feet.

Bankfull widths, mean depths, and cross-sectional areas measured at 12 sites in undredged reaches were compared to estimates determined from regional equations. The mean percentage difference between measured and estimated bankfull widths was -0.2 percent, suggesting that bankfull widths in the Wheeling Creek Basin are generally about the same as regional averages for undisturbed basins of identical drainage area. For bankfull mean depth and cross-sectional area, the mean percentage differences between the measured and estimated values were -16.0 and -11.2, respectively. The predominantly negative bias in differences between the measured and estimated values indicates that bankfull mean depths and cross-sectional areas in studied reaches generally are smaller than the regional trend. This may be an indication of channel filling and over widening or it may reflect insufficient representation in the regional dataset of basins with characteristics like that of Wheeling Creek.

Step-backwater models were constructed for four previously dredged reaches to determine the height of levees required to contain floods with recurrence intervals of 2, 10, 50, and 100 years. Existing levees (all of which are uncertified) were found to contain the 100-year flood at only 20 percent of the surveyed cross sections. At the other 80 percent of the surveyed cross sections, levee heights would have to be raised an average of 2.5 feet and as much as 6.3 feet to contain the 100-year flood.

Step-backwater models also were constructed for three undredged reaches to assess the impacts of selected dredging and streambed aggradation scenarios on water-surface elevations corresponding to the 2-, 10-, 50-, and 100-year floods. Those models demonstrated that changes in water-surface elevations associated with a given depth of dredging were proportionately smaller for larger floods due to the fact that more of the flood waters are outside of the main channel. For example, 2.0 feet of dredging in the three study reaches would lower the water-surface elevation an average of 1.30 feet for the 2-year flood and 0.64 feet for the 100-year flood.

Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Background and Previous Studies

Study Approach

Setting and Land Use

Collection of Field Data in Study Reaches

Resurvey of Previously Surveyed Cross Sections in Dredged Reaches

Bankfull Profile and Cross-Section Surveys in Undredged Reaches

Survey of Bridges and Open-Channel Cross Sections for Step-Backwater Models

Morphological Data Analyses

Long-Term Changes in Mean Streambed Elevations in Previously Dredged Reaches

Bankfull Characteristics from Field Surveys Compared to Regional Estimates in Undredged Reaches

Bankfull Characteristics Determined from Field Surveys

Measured Bankfull Characteristics Compared to Equation Estimates and Regional Curves

Step-Backwater Analyses and Simulated Flood Elevations

Development of Step-Backwater Models

Flood Elevations for Existing Conditions in Previously Dredged Reaches

Flood Elevations for Simulated Levee Conditions in Previously Dredged Reaches

Flood Elevations for Simulated Dredging and Aggradation Conditions in Undredged Reaches

Summary and Conclusions

Acknowledgments

References Cited

Maps and Water-Surface Profiles

Data Tables

Figures

  1. Map showing locations of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamflow-gaging station 03111548, 12 sites selected for
bankfull surveys, and dredged and undredged reaches studied in the Wheeling Creek Basin.

 2a–5a. Maps showing locations of cross sections used to create stepbackwater models of dredged reaches of Wheeling Creek in
        the communities of 2a, Lafferty, Ohio; 3a, Crabapple, Ohio; 4a, Maynard, Ohio; and 5a, Crescent, Ohio.

 2b–5b. Graphs showing water-surface profiles estimated from step-backwater models for existing conditions of dredged reaches
        of Wheeling Creek in the communities of 2b, Lafferty, Ohio; 3b, Crabapple, Ohio; 4b, Maynard, Ohio; and 5b, Crescent, Ohio.

       6. Graph showing annual peak streamflows for 1983 through 2006 and peak streamflows for 2004 greater than a 5-year
        recurrence interval for USGS streamflow-gaging station Wheeling Creek below Blaine, Ohio (03111548).

       7. Schematic diagram showing geomorphic features of a stream valley and channel.

  8–11. Plots showing cross-sectional data for 1987 and 2006 stream-channel surveys for Wheeling Creek cross sections in the
        communities of 8, Lafferty, Ohio; 9, Crabapple, Ohio; 10, Maynard, Ohio; and 11, Crescent, Ohio.

     12. Schematic diagram showing method used to compute width-averaged bed elevation.

     13. Plots showing measured bankfull characteristics for 12 sites on Wheeling Creek compared to 50 sites and regional curves
        from an Ohio statewide study.

     14. Schematic diagram showing levee heights above the water-surface elevation and flooding on the landward side of the
        levees by water submerging or flowing around the levees, in plan view and cross-sectional plots.

     15. Plot showing cross-sectional data for a previously dredged site with (A) current conditions and (B) simulated levees
        required to contain a 100-year flood.

     16. Plot showing cross-sectional data for an undredged site showing current conditions and selected conditions where the
        streambed was lowered or raised to simulate dredging and aggradation.

17a–19a. Maps showing locations of cross sections used to create stepbackwater models of undredged reaches of Wheeling Creek:
             17a, below the community of Lafferty, Ohio; 18a, between the communities of Maynard and Crescent, Ohio; and
             19a, below the community of Crescent, Ohio.

17b–19b. Graphs showing water-surface profiles estimated from stepbackwater models for existing conditions of undredged reaches
             of Wheeling Creek: 17b, below Lafferty, Ohio; 18b, between Maynard and Crescent, Ohio; and 19b, below Crescent, Ohio.

     20. Plots showing cross-sectional data for an undredged site with current conditions and changes in bed elevations, and the
        corresponding water-surface elevations for the 2- and 100-year flood recurrence intervals.

Tables

 1. Land-cover classifications from 1979, 1992, and 2001 land-cover datasets for the Wheeling Creek watershed, and the
aggregated classification used to compare datasets.

 2. Percentages of land cover from 1979, 1992, and 2001 datasets for the Wheeling Creek watershed.

 3. Width-averaged bed elevation data and thalweg elevation data for April 1987 and August 2006 for 21 sites in four
reaches of Wheeling Creek.

 4. Measured bankfull characteristics from field surveys for 12 sites on Wheeling Creek selected for geomorphic data analyses.

 5. Measured and estimated bankfull characteristics for 12 sites on Wheeling Creek selected for geomorphic data analyses.

 6. Basin characteristics and flood-peak streamflow estimates at selected sites along Wheeling Creek in Belmont County, Ohio.

 7. Flood elevations for selected recurrence intervals with existing conditions in the four previously dredged reaches,
Wheeling Creek, Belmont County, Ohio.

 8. Flood elevations for simulated levee conditions, current conditions, and the change in water-surface elevations from the
current conditions for indicated recurrence intervals in previously dredged reaches near Lafferty, Wheeling Creek,
Belmont County, Ohio.

 9. Flood elevations for simulated levee conditions, current conditions, and the change in water-surface elevations from the
current conditions for indicated recurrence interval in previously dredged reaches near Crabapple, Wheeling Creek,
Belmont County, Ohio.

     10. Flood elevations for simulated levee conditions, current conditions, and the change in water-surface elevations from
        the current conditions for indicated recurrence intervals in previously dredged reaches near Maynard, Wheeling Creek,
        Belmont County, Ohio.

     11. Flood elevations for simulated levee conditions, current conditions, and the change in water-surface elevations from
        the current conditions for indicated recurrence intervals in previously dredged reaches near Crescent, Wheeling Creek,
        Belmont County, Ohio.

     12. Summary of the measured levee elevation and the distance from top of measured levee to the water surface for
        indicated recurrence intervals in previously dredged reaches of Wheeling Creek, Belmont County, Ohio.

     13. Flood elevations for simulated dredging and aggradation, current conditions, and the change in water-surface
        elevations from current conditions for indicated recurrence intervals for the previously undredged reach below Lafferty,
        Wheeling Creek, Belmont County, Ohio.

     14. Flood elevations for simulated dredging and aggradation, current conditions, and the change in water-surface
        elevations from current conditions for indicated recurrence intervals for the previously undredged reach between
        Maynard and Crescent, Wheeling Creek, Belmont County, Ohio.

     15. Flood elevations for simulated dredging and aggradation, current conditions, and the change in water-surface
        elevations from current conditions for indicated recurrence interval for the previously undredged reach below the
        community of Crescent, Wheeling Creek, Belmont County, Ohio.

     16. Change in water-surface elevations, in feet, for indicated flood recurrence intervals, in years, and change in bed
        elevation, in feet, for three undredged reaches, Wheeling Creek, Belmont County, Ohio.


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Suggested Citation:


Sherwood, J.M., Huitger, C.A., Ebner, A.D., and Koltun, G.F., 2008, Morphological analyses and simulated flood elevations in a watershed with dredged and leveed stream channels, Wheeling Creek, Eastern Ohio: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008–5133, 67 p.




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