MMSD Watercourse Corridor Study: Continuous Real-Time Streamflow

Science Center Objects

The MMSD Watercourse Corridor Study supports seven USGS streamflow gages on Milwaukee-area streams that measure real-time discharge and gage height. A few sites also support time lapse site videos.

During the current 5-year study period for Phase V (2016-2020) of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) Watercourse Corridor Study, the following four topics are being addressed by one or more USGS subprojects:

1.    Ecological Assessments and Trends
2.    Geomorphology and Sediment Studies Related to Stream and Estuary Rehabilitation
3.    Contaminants in Water and Sediment
4.    Continuous Real-Time Streamflow

This webpage focuses on topic 4. Continuous Real-Time Streamflow.

 

The USGS has a history of providing accurate, long-term data on streamflow from gages it maintains on our nation’s streams and rivers. To enhance spatial coverage of this network, the USGS partners with other agencies to help fund streamflow measurements at many additional locations in the US. In the Milwaukee area, MMSD support through the Watercourse Corridor Study allows for streamflow collection at seven sites, thereby augmenting the larger USGS streamflow program while providing fundamental streamflow information valuable in the interpretation of water quality and biological data collected for the Watercourse Corridor Study.

BACKGROUND

Streamflow data is essential for evaluating the impacts of urbanization on the hydrology, chemistry, and biology of the waterways in the MMSD service area. Accurate measurement of streamflow is completed using several different methods (e.g., an installed gaging station or on-site measurement using stream cross-section measurements). All methods require consistent measurement of specific parameters such as velocity and/or water level on a relatively-fine time scale (e.g., feet per second) followed by computations to convert these parameters into a streamflow value. Streamflow can influence multiple other stream characteristics such as the amount of sediment, chemicals, and microorganisms that are transported by the stream from its watershed.

OBJECTIVES

To determine streamflow at sites for use by MMSD and other watershed management agencies, as well as to support ongoing Corridor Study efforts that require streamflow.

APPROACH

Well-established USGS stream-gaging methods are used to determine streamflow at all gaging stations. Streamflow measurements are made every 4 to 6 weeks and more frequently during high flows to calibrate streamflow computations (stage-discharge relations or velocity-discharge coefficients) for each site.

Sites supported by the MMSD Watercourse Corridor Study:

  1. Little Menomonee River near Freistadt (04087050, time-lapse camera available)
  2. Little Menomonee River, upstream of the confluence with the Menomonee River (04087070)
  3. Honey Creek upstream of the confluence with the Menomonee River (04087119, time-lapse camera available)
  4. Menomonee River at 16th St. (04087142)
  5. Lincoln Creek at N. Sherman Blvd. (040869416)
  6. Milwaukee River at the mouth at Jones Island (04087170)
  7. Root River at Grange Ave. (04087214, time-lapse camera available)

For more information on USGS streamflow methods, please visit the USGS Water Science School.