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Using high-frequency monitoring data to quantify city-wide suspended-sediment load and evaluate TMDL goals

October 26, 2023

Excess sediment is a common reason water bodies in the USA become listed as impaired resulting in total maximum daily loads (TMDL) that require municipalities to invest millions of dollars annually on management practices aimed at reducing suspended-sediment loads (SSLs), yet monitoring data are rarely used to quantify SSLs and track TMDL progress. A monitoring network was created to quantify the SSL from the City of Roanoke, Virginia, USA (CoR), to the Roanoke River and Tinker Creek and help guide TMDL assessment and implementation. Suspended-sediment concentrations were estimated between 2020 and 2022 from high-frequency turbidity data using surrogate linear-regression models. Sixty-one percent of the total three-year SSL resulted from five large storm events. The average suspended-sediment yield from the CoR (58.1 metric tons/km2/year) was similar to other urban watersheds in the Eastern United States; however, the yield was nearly five times larger than the TMDL allocation (12.2 metric tons/km2/year). The TMDL allocated load was modeled based on a predominantly forested reference watershed and may not be a practical target for highly impervious watersheds within the CoR. The TMDL model used daily input data which likely does not capture the full range of SSLs during storm events, particularly from flashy urban streams. The average SSL following the five large storm events doubled that of the CoR’s annual allocated load from the TMDL. The results of this study highlight the importance of using high-frequency monitoring data to accurately estimate SSLs and evaluate TMDLs in urban areas.

Publication Year 2023
Title Using high-frequency monitoring data to quantify city-wide suspended-sediment load and evaluate TMDL goals
DOI 10.1007/s10661-023-11905-3
Authors Samuel Adam Miller, James S. Webber, John D. Jastram, Marcus F Aguilar
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Index ID 70251059
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization VA/WV Water Science Center