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Geomorphic and hydrologic study of peak-flow management on the Cedar River, Washington

November 27, 2012

Assessing the linkages between high-flow events, geomorphic response, and effects on stream ecology is critical to river management. High flows on the gravel-bedded Cedar River in Washington are important to the geomorphic function of the river; however, high flows can deleteriously affect salmon embryos incubating in streambed gravels. A geomorphic analysis of the Cedar River showed evidence of historical changes in river form over time and quantified the effects of anthropogenic alterations to the river corridor. Field measurements with accelerometer scour monitors buried in the streambed provided insight into the depth and timing of streambed scour during high-flow events. Combined with a two-dimensional hydrodynamic model, the recorded accelerometer disturbances allowed the prediction of streambed disturbance at the burial depth of Chinook and sockeye salmon egg pockets for different peak discharges. Insight gained from these analyses led to the development of suggested monitoring metrics for an ongoing geomorphic monitoring program on the Cedar River.