Monitoring suspended sediment for dam removal


[Music playing] Faith: So as the bed rises and that brings up the water level and every time that happens you have to adjust how the rating is between the stage and the amount of flow that passes by here. Bill: Our surface-water crew has a real challenge at this site because you’re exactly right, as the bed rises and the surface of the water rises, the relationship to discharge and water depth changes so they’re pretty much out here constantly measuring the surface of the water and the amount of discharge for any given section. Faith: So this is a water sampler here- an automated sampler. Why are these good to have on a site like this? Bill: Well because none of us like to get up at 3:00 in the morning and sample suspended settlement. This will do it for us based on the stage that we’ve preset, so with looking at the discharge in the river and what’s it’s done over the past few months, we’ll set this thing so that it starts sampling as the hydrograph starts to rise. It’ll hit a threshold and then it’ll begin sampling every hour. It’ll sample for 12 hours and then it kicks back, usually that’s over the top of the recession side of the hydrograph and then it’ll slow down to every two hours. And what that allows us is we’ve got samples across the hydrograph for suspended sentiment. It prevents us from coming out here during unsafe times. It also prevents us from having to be here at odd hours, but in order to make sure that we understand what it’s doing and what it’s sampling, we’re out here at nearly base flow collecting an EWI, an equal-width-increment suspended- sediment sample so– that’s our gospel, that’s the benchmark of what’s actually in the river right now. I’m going to collect two samples out of this sampler and once he’s done we’re going to collect another two and we’ll compare those to what he’s collected in the river and we’ll have a relationship between what’s going on with this machine and what’s going on in the river. Faith: And the thing is, this collects from one point where the tube is located in the river and you want to develop a relationship between that and what’s happening across the entire channel. Bill: Absolutely, couldn’t have said it better. So this a little noisy so we’ll get started here. This is a peristaltic pump that draws from one point in the river, down there, and will fill about 750 milliliters into this bottle. That’s
more better. Michael: This is our in-stream sampler for our ISCO directly below our former Simkins Dam removal site. Here what we’ve developed is basically a meter that can function with our changes in flow. It can rise and lower with the stage and it most importantly keeps our intake off of the bed because otherwise we would possibly start sucking sand and bias our samples that we collect. In addition to our point sampler we also have a turbidity probe situated directly below it so as not to influence it so neither influences each other. And between the two we’ll be able to construct our suspended sentiment loads as well as daily values and annual loads. Bill: The turbidity probe or Nephelometer allows us to get certain concentrations, suspended-sediment concentrations when we’re otherwise not able to collect samples. So that’s kind of like the backup that’s there when we’re not. Faith: How is this usually done – it’s pretty involved, right, to be able to get a good representation of what’s coming down the river? Michael: Yeah, what we like to do is we come out at least monthly unless there’s a storm event then it’s much more intensive sampling. At low flows we can wade it otherwise we work from the bridge and we do what’s called an equal- width-increment sample and the primary purpose of it is for us to use it to calibrate our point sampler. This is a depth-integrated sampler or DG81 handheld. Basically what it does is it allows us to get a print profile of our suspended sentiment concentration along the reach. We stretch a line, we get an approximate width or the actual width of the river and then we break that into about ten verticals and we sample the centroid of each vertical. Faith: So get both the depth and the width across it and the right representation of water going through there. So it looks like a pretty simple design there but there’s a lot of technology, really, that goes into those, right, what’s – Bill: That’s a pretty sophisticated piece of equipment and it’s designed specifically as an isokinetic sample meaning that if used properly, when it’s lowered into the water at a rate no greater than 4 tenths of the velocity of the water, sediment, suspended sentiment and water will enter that nozzle at the same speed that it’s traveling down the river. If it goes faster than that then particles accelerate in that nozzle and you’re going to get a biased sample with too much sentiment. If it’s the opposite and prevents water from entering and suspended sentiment from entering then it’s going to create eddies there, slow the water down and you’re going to get bias on the other side. So this is a pretty sophisticated piece of equipment and if used properly we’re going to get a very accurate representation of suspended sentiment in the river. And I think Mike’s going to get started now doing our increments and we’ve sampled this river a good number of times. If this was the first time we were sampling it, we’d take kind of a sample measurement at the deepest part of the river so we’d begin our transit rate and that rate is the speed with which we submerge and raise the sampler. Mike’s done this enough times that he can do it pretty well by memory so he’s going to start here on the left bank and collect across. Otherwise we would have started in the center, got an estimate transit rate and then started here on the left bank. Faith: So the main thing this is that in the deepest section he doesn’t want to fill the bottle. Bill: Doesn’t want to overfill that bottle, that’s real important. He can aggregate as many sections as he thinks he should but what he can’t do is overfill the bottle, then he has to start over from wherever that bottle started. You can see, and he starts right at the water surface, he lowers it at a very even rate, raises it at the same rate, and he’ll examine how much he’s collected and decide whether or not he needs to change bottles. Faith: He’s standing behind it and kind of off to the side a little bit so he’s not disrupting the flow of water. Bill: Absolutely, and again, he doesn’t want to create an eddy and he doesn’t want to create a vortex. And just a little history prior to the dam being removed Mike would have been over his head here, so we’ve had a great deal of accretion on this bed as a result of the removal of the dam. Faith: One other thing too, the way the nozzle’s designed on the bottle, it keeps the nozzle just above the bed so that it doesn’t hit the bottom or disturb the bottom so we’re just getting that water column part of things. Water looks pretty clear today but I bet when there’s an event it gets a lot of sediment. Bill: We had an event about a week and a half ago that it’ll turn it to chocolate milk pretty quickly and the materials that we’re sampling then, in order to do this sort of sampling at high water, we have to do it off this bridge over here. And we’ll do that with a separate sampler, a much heavier sampler that will remain vertical in the water during these high flows. That particular sample weighs, I think, about 68 pounds. Faith: So even – you can’t really see it ’cause it’s underwater but there’s sand moving constantly in the suspension to – Bill: Absolutely. And the finer sand portion are, in fact, being suspended and moved while the courser ones are visible moving long the bed. Those two in concert with something called the wash load constitute the total load moving down stream and as we said earlier, once that dam was removed we placed a lot more sediment in motion and our goal here is to determine how much of that sentiment moves downstream. Michael: You can see the water’s pretty clear as we’re at base flow, it’s what we’d expect to see. But the lab, whenever we get it composited and get stuff back, we’ll get numbers on this that our eye couldn’t give us. Bill: To calculate our loads we’ve a Nephelometer that’s measuring turbidity in the water, we have a point sampler and then periodically we have in-stream samples, equal-width-increment samples that are our gold standard to calibrate the other measurements by. So we have a well-instrumented site here and we’re collecting a lot of very important data. [Music playing]

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