The effective discharge is defined as the increment of discharge that transports the largest fraction of the annual sediment load over a period of years. Increments of the average annual total sediment load transported by various discharges were calculated by the flow-duration, sediment-transport-curve method for 15 gaging stations in the Yampa River basin of Colorado and Wyoming. A total sediment-transport curve was constructed for each gaging station by adding measured instantaneous suspended-sediment discharges to bedload-sediment discharges computed by the Meyer-Peter and Mueller relation. The streamflow durations were compiled from the respective gaging-station records. The quantity of sediment transported by discharges having various frequencies may be computed by combining these two relations. The 15 gaging stations had diverse hydraulic and sediment characteristics. Contributing drainage area ranged from 51.8 to 9,960 km2, and mean-annual discharge ranged from 0.040 to 43.9 m3/s. The median diameter of bed material ranged from 0.4 to 86 mm. Mean-annual sediment load from the drainage basins studied ranged from 500 to 1.3??106 metric tons per year. The effective discharges at the 15 gaging stations were equaled or exceeded on the average of between 1.5 days per year (0.4% of the time) and 11 days per year (3.0% of the time). The recurrence interval of the effective discharges ranged from 1.18 to 3.26 yr. on the annual flood series. To compare the effective discharge with the bankfull discharge, cross-sections were surveyed in a self-formed reach of the channel in the vicinity of each gaging station. The bankfull discharge was defined as the discharge which filled the channel to the level of the floodplain. At all gaging stations, the effective discharge and the bankfull discharge were nearly equal. Thus, the stream channels appear to be adjusted to their effective discharge. ?? 1980.
Additional publication details
Effective and bankfull discharges of streams in the Yampa River basin, Colorado and Wyoming