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Hydrologic and morphologic changes in channels of the Platte River basin; a historical perspective

Open-File Report 81-1125

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Abstract

The channels of the South Platte River in Colorado and Nebraska and the North Platte and Platte Rivers in Nebraska have undergone major changes in hydrologic regime and morphology since 1860. These changes are attributed to agricultural, municipal, and industrial water use. Diversion and storage of water have changed streamflow patterns throughout the basin. At some stations, significant changes in flood peaks, annual mean discharges, and shapes of flow-duration curves have been observed. Changes in streamflow patterns are manifested by changes in morphology of channels of the Platte River. Prior to water development in the 19th century, the Platte was a wide (2 kilometers), shallow (1.8 to 2.4 meters) river characterized by bankfull spring flows and low summer flows. The width of the Platte River in 1979 ranged from 8 to 92 percent of the channel width in 1860, increasing in a downstream direction. Above the confluence with the Loup River, overbank flows evidently have become more common. Moreover, the annual number of low flow days has increased and the days of no flow have decreased giving the channels a more perennial character. Width reduction has occurred by progressive encroachment of vegetation and consequent vertical and horizontal accretion on sand bars in the channel. (USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrologic and morphologic changes in channels of the Platte River basin; a historical perspective
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
81-1125
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1981
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
v, 61 p. ill., maps ;28 cm.