In the Water Resource Development Act of 1999, the U.S. Congress authorized the deepening of the Savannah Harbor. Additional studies were then identified by the Georgia Ports Authority and other local and regional stakeholders to determine and fully describe the potential environmental effects of deepening the channel. One need that was identified was the validation of a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model developed to evaluate mitigation scenarios for a potential harbor deepening and the effects on the Savannah River estuary. The streamflow in the estuary is very complex due to reversing tidal flows, interconnections of streams and tidal creeks, and the daily flooding and draining of the marshes. The model was calibrated using very limited streamflow data and no continuous streamflow measurements. To better characterize the streamflow dynamics and mass transport of the estuary, two index-velocity sites were instrumented with continuous acoustic velocity, water level, and specific conductance sensors on the Little Back and Middle Rivers for the 5-month period of November 2008 through March 2009. During the same period, a third acoustic velocity meter was installed on the Front River just downstream from U.S. Geological Survey streamgaging station 02198920 (Savannah River at GA 25, at Port Wentworth, Georgia) where water level and specific conductance data were being collected. A fourth index-velocity site was instrumented with continuous acoustic velocity, water level, and specific conductance sensors on Union Creek for a 2-month period starting in November 2008. In addition to monitoring the tidal cycles, streamflow measurements were made at the four index-velocity sites to develop ratings to compute continuous discharge for each site. The maximum flood (incoming) and ebb (outgoing) tides measured on Little Back River were –4,570 and 7,990 cubic feet per second, respectively. On Middle River, the maximum flood and ebb tides measured were –9,630 and 13,600 cubic feet per second, respectively. On Front River, the maximum flood and ebb tides were –34,500 and 43,700 cubic feet per second, respectively; and on Union Creek, the maximum flood and ebb tides were –2,390 and 4,610 cubic feet per second, respectively. During the 5-month instrumentation deployment, computed tidal streamflows on Little Back River ranged from –7,820 to 9,600 cubic feet per second for the flood and ebb tides, respectively. On Middle River, the computed tidal streamflows ranged from –17,500 to 22,500 cubic feet per second for the flood and ebb tides, respectively. The computed tidal streamflows on Front River ranged from –78,900 to 87,200 cubic feet per second, and from –3,850 to 6,130 cubic feet per second on Union Creek for the flood and ebb tides, respectively. The streamgages on the Little Back, Middle, and Front Rivers have continued in operation following the initial 5-month deployment.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Continuous tidal streamflow, water level, and specific conductance data for Union Creek and the Little Back, Middle, and Front Rivers, Savannah River Estuary, November 2008 to March 2009