Sediment Science in Texas

Science Center Objects

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified sediment as a leading cause of impairment in the Nation’s rivers and streams. Excessive sedimentation degrades aquatic habitat; reduces longevity of water-supply, flood-control reservoirs; and is the primary transport mechanism of toxic organic chemicals, heavy metals, and nutrients. The USGS Texas Water Science Center (TXWSC) has multiple projects that collect sediment data to assist in understand long-term water quality trends. Visit the links below for more information on our data and science.

In Texas, high flows in rivers caused by local rainfall or by releases from upstream reservoirs can increase sediment erosion and nutrient runoff downstream. Sediment transported by rivers and streams to estuaries and bays can affect water quality and reduce water clarity. Concentrations of suspended sediment also are affected by natural conditions (such as soil erosion and streambed resuspension) and can also be affected by human activities (such as development, timber harvesting, agricultural practices, and hydraulic alteration).



TXWSC has expertise in sediment science applications, including, but not limited to: 

  • Suspended Sediments in Streams, Storm Runoff, and Impervious Surface Runoff
    • Quantifying Loads and Yields of Contaminants
    • Identifying Sources of Sediment-Associated Trace Elements and Hydrophobic Organic Contaminants
    • Understanding Relations Between Streamflow and Sediment and Contaminant Transport
    • Characterizing Relations Between Land-Use and Sediment Quality
  • Streambed Sediments
    • Characterizing Sediment Quality
    • Identifying Source(s) of Contaminant Inputs
  • Lake/Reservoir Bottom Sediments
    • Age Dating Sediments to Calculate Deposition Dates and Sedimentation Rates
    • Reconstructing Water-Quality Trends of Sediment-Associated Trace Elements and Hydrophobic Organic Contaminants
    • Describing Effects of Land-Use and Regulatory Changes and Urbanization on Water-Quality


Find out more about TXWSC water-quality science and sediement science expertise in these printable information sheets.


Streambed sediment sampling

Manually collecting a streambed sediment sample using a ponar sampler (Public domain.)


USGS sediment data portal

WaterQualityWatch: Real Time Turbidity

USGS National Real-Time Water Quality: Texas Real-Time Water Quality


Collecting data from the USGS Streamgage on the Trinity River near Wallisville, Tex. , during flood conditions

Collecting data from the USGS Streamgage on the Trinity River near Wallisville, Tex., during flood conditions. (Public domain.)


Coastal Monitoring

Coastal Inflow Sediment and Nutrient Monitoring 

Nutrient and Sediment Variability in the Lower San Jacinto River


Lake Monitoring

Water-Quality Monitoring of the Lake Houston Watershed


River Monitoring

San Antonio River Sediment and Water Quality Monitoring in an Oil and Gas Production Area


Statewide Monitoring

National Water-Quality Assessment Project in Texas - Surface Water Activities