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Suspended-sediment transport and storage: A demonstration of acoustic methods in the evaluation of reservoir management strategies for a small water-supply reservoir in western Colorado

June 16, 2015

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and local stakeholder groups are evaluating reservoir-management strategies within Paonia Reservoir. This small reservoir fills to capacity each spring and requires approximately half of the snowmelt-runoff volume from its sediment-laden source waters, Muddy Creek. The U.S. Geological Survey is currently conducting high-resolution (15-minute data-recording interval) sediment monitoring to characterize incoming and outgoing sediment flux during reservoir operations at two sites on Muddy Creek. The high-resolution monitoring is being used to establish current rates of reservoir sedimentation, support USBR sediment transport and storage models, and assess the viability of water-storage recovery in Paonia Reservoir. These sites are equipped with in situ, single-frequency, side-looking acoustic Doppler current meters in conjunction with turbidity sensors to monitor sediment flux. This project serves as a demonstration of the capability of using surrogate techniques to predict suspended-sediment concentrations in small streams (less than 20 meters in width and 2 meters in depth). These two sites provide the ability to report near real-time suspended-sediment concentrations through the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Information System (NWIS) web interface and National Real-Time Water Quality websites (NRTWQ) to aid in reservoir operations and assessments.