Suspended-Sediment Concentration Regimes for Two Biological Reference Streams in Middle Tennessee

Authors

  • Timothy H. Diehl,

    1. Respectively, Hydrologist and Supervisory Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, 640 Grassmere Park, Suite 100, Nashville, Tennessee 37211
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  • William J. Wolfe

    1. Respectively, Hydrologist and Supervisory Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, 640 Grassmere Park, Suite 100, Nashville, Tennessee 37211
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  • Paper No. JAWRA-09-0119-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.

(E-Mail/Diehl: thdiehl@usgs.gov).

Abstract

Diehl, Timothy H. and William J. Wolfe, 2010. Suspended-Sediment Concentration Regimes for Two Biological Reference Streams in Middle Tennessee. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 46(4): 824-837. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00460.x

Abstract:  Temporal patterns of suspended-sediment concentration (SSC) duration and frequency (SSC regimes) were characterized and compared with biological impairment thresholds for two headwater streams in the Western Highland Rim of Tennessee. The SSC regimes were plotted as curves showing concentrations and durations of the annual longest and tenth-longest SSC excursions above 18 concentrations for water years 2005-2008 in Copperas Branch and water years 2006 and 2008 in Kelley Creek. Both streams have fish communities remarkably diverse for their small drainage basin areas (420 and 565 ha, respectively), and represent biological reference conditions with respect to SSC. SSC-regime curves were similar for the two sites across water years. The measured SSC regimes reached or exceeded published experimentally based SSC impairment thresholds and plotted below a proposed long-term SSC reference regime for the Interior Plateau ecoregion (Ecoregion 71), suggesting that neither the experimentally based thresholds nor the proposed SSC reference regime adequately reflect the relation between SSC and biological impairment for Western Highland Rim headwater streams. The SSC regimes of the two study streams were similar to the estimated SSC regime of an unimpaired East Tennessee trout stream. Additional field studies are needed to describe SSC regimes in streams of varying basin scale, level of impairment, and region.

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