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Regionalized equations for bankfull-discharge and channel characteristics of streams in New York State—Hydrologic Region 6 in the Southern Tier of New York

November 4, 2005

Equations that relate bankfull discharge and channel characteristics (width, depth, and cross-sectional area) to drainage-area size at gaged sites are needed to define bankfull discharge and channel dimensions at ungaged sites and to provide information for watershed assessments, stream-channel classification, and the design of stream-restoration projects. Such equations are most accurate if derived from streams within an area of uniform hydrologic, climatic, and physiographic conditions and applied only within that region. In New York State, eight hydrologic regions were previously defined on the basis of similar high-flow (flood) characteristics. This report presents drainage areas and associated bankfull characteristics (discharge and channel dimensions) for surveyed streams in southwestern New York (Region 6).

Stream-survey data and discharge records from 11 active (currently gaged) sites and 3 inactive (discontinued) sites were used in regression analyses to relate bankfull discharge and bankfull channel width, depth, and cross-sectional area to the size of the drainage area. The resulting equations are:

(1) bankfull discharge, in cubic feet per second = 48.0*(drainage area, in square miles)0.842;

(2) bankfull channel width, in feet = 16.9*(drainage area, in square miles)0.419;

(3) bankfull channel depth, in feet = 1.04*(drainage area, in square miles)0.244; and

(4) bankfull channel cross-sectional area, in square feet = 17.6*(drainage area, in square miles)0.662.

The coefficient of determination (R2) for these four equations were 0.90, 0.79, 0.64, and 0.89, respectively. The high correlation coefficients for bankfull discharge and cross-sectional area indicate that much of the variation in these variables is explained by the size of the drainage area. The smaller correlation coefficients for bankfull channel width and depth indicate that other factors also affect these relations. Recurrence intervals for the estimated bankfull discharge of each stream ranged from 1.01 to 2.35 years; the mean recurrence interval was 1.54 years. The 14 surveyed streams were classified by Rosgen stream type; most were C-type reaches, with occasional B-type reaches. The Region 6 equation (curve) for bankfull discharge was compared with equations previously developed for four other large areas in New York State and southeastern Pennsylvania. The differences among results indicate that, although the equations need to be refined by region before being applied by water-resources managers to local planning and design efforts, similar regions have similar relations between bankfull discharge and channel characteristics.

Publication Year 2005
Title Regionalized equations for bankfull-discharge and channel characteristics of streams in New York State—Hydrologic Region 6 in the Southern Tier of New York
DOI 10.3133/sir20055100
Authors Christiane I. Mulvihill, Anne G. Ernst, Barry P. Baldigo
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2005-5100
Index ID sir20055100
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center