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Evaluation of sediment yield and sediment data-collection network in the Piceance basin, northwestern Colorado

January 1, 1994

Statistical relationships were developed between suspended-sediment discharge and several regional factors of climate, physiography, and land use in the Piceance basin, northwestern Colorado. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the existing sediment collection network, especially in regard to detecting changes in suspended-sediment discharge due to the development in the basin. Spatial- and time variability were examined using multiple linear regression techniques. Because of the short period of record, monthly mean sediment loads were used to determine shifts or changes in trends due to mining and related activities in the basin. Dummy variable analysis was used to detect these premining and postmining differences in the regression lines and also to detect seasonal differences in the sediment discharge. Differences did exist in the sediment discharge from season to season and before and after mining; however, due to the variability and short period of record the cause of these differences could not be adequately determined. Part of the high variability in sediment discharge was due to variability in the water discharge. Therefore, if the network is to be improved, the emphasis needs to be on improvement of the water-discharge. The results of the monthly mean regression analysis were used in the mean monthly and mean annual analysis for determination of initial network design equations. These were only preliminary in nature and could be improved with additional data. (USGS)