Friday, April 21, 2006

4,715 Cubic Feet Per Second
This is what it looks like. This is also an example of what I do at work. Yesterday I was out with a coworker from a local county measuring flow at a bridge in the Vermillion Bottoms. We recorded the highest flow ever observed at this site. That is not to say that it's the highest flow - it's not even close - but most flows don't get measured. To understand pollutant loading, it's critical to know how much water is moving through systems at various points. These graphs emphasize the need to catch high flows when creating a stage-discharge relationship: note how the slope of the line changes as water levels rise... meaning you can't use a set of low flows to predict high flows. Case in point - if we'd used the data collected through 1998 to predict flow yesterday, the result would have been ~3700 cfs (off by ~22%, as actual measurement was 4715 cfs). We need to get even higher flows documented... thus, we keep at it! Yesterday was a great field day - weather was nice and all equipment worked as it should. In the one graph here you can see the cross section of the river - note that the main channel was 17 feet deep at some points - as well as the velocity at each point across the transect... and finally the "piece" of the total flow at each station. The river was 349 feet wide at this point! The measurement took a little longer than three hours, and we took more than twice as many observations as are required by standard protocol - meaning the measurement is pretty accurate.


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