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Keywords:

  • rivers/streams;
  • estuaries;
  • geospatial analysis;
  • sediment transport;
  • transport and fate;
  • Chesapeake Bay;
  • model;
  • SPARROW

Brakebill, John W., Scott W. Ator, and Gregory E. Schwarz, 2010. Sources of Suspended-Sediment Flux in Streams of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: A Regional Application of the SPARROW Model. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 46(4): 757-776. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00450.x

Abstract:  We describe the sources and transport of fluvial suspended sediment in nontidal streams of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and vicinity. We applied SPAtially Referenced Regressions on Watershed attributes, which spatially correlates estimated mean annual flux of suspended sediment in nontidal streams with sources of suspended sediment and transport factors. According to our model, urban development generates on average the greatest amount of suspended sediment per unit area (3,928 Mg/km2/year), although agriculture is much more widespread and is the greatest overall source of suspended sediment (57 Mg/km2/year). Factors affecting sediment transport from uplands to streams include mean basin slope, reservoirs, physiography, and soil permeability. On average, 59% of upland suspended sediment generated is temporarily stored along large rivers draining the Coastal Plain or in reservoirs throughout the watershed. Applying erosion and sediment controls from agriculture and urban development in areas of the northern Piedmont close to the upper Bay, where the combined effects of watershed characteristics on sediment transport have the greatest influence may be most helpful in mitigating sedimentation in the bay and its tributaries. Stream restoration efforts addressing floodplain and bank stabilization and incision may be more effective in smaller, headwater streams outside of the Coastal Plain.