Variability of hydrologic regimes and morphology in constructed open-ditch channels

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Edited by:
Cooke R.A.


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Open-ditch ecosystems are potential transporters of considerable loads of nutrients, sediment, pathogens and pesticides from direct inflow from agricultural land to small streams and larger rivers. Our objective was to compare hydrology and channel morphology between two experimental open-ditch channels. An open-ditch research facility incorporating a paired design was constructed during 2002 near Lamberton, MN. A200-m reach of existing drainage channel was converted into a system of four parallel channels. The facility was equipped with water level control devices and instrumentation for flow monitoring and water sample collection on upstream and downstream ends of the system. Hydrographs from simulated flow during year one indicated that paired open-ditch channels responded similarly to changes in inflow. Variability in hydrologic response between open-ditches was attributed to differences in open-ditch channel bottom elevation and vegetation density. No chemical, biological, or atmospheric measurements were made during 2003. Potential future benefits of this research include improved biological diversity and integrity of open-ditch ecosystems, reduce flood peaks and increased flow during critical low-flow periods, improved and more efficient nitrogen retention within the open-ditch ecosystem, and decreased maintenance cost associated with reduced frequency of open-ditch maintenance.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Variability of hydrologic regimes and morphology in constructed open-ditch channels
Year Published:
Larger Work Title:
Proceedings of the 8th International Drainage Symposium - Drainage VIII
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Conference Title:
8th International Drainage Symposium - Drainage VIII
Conference Location:
Sacramento, CA
Conference Date:
21 March 2004 through 24 March 2004