The channels of the Platte River and its major tributaries, the South Platte and North Platte Rivers in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, have undergone major changes in hydrologic regime and morphology since about 1860, when the water resources of the basin began to be developed for agricultural, municipal, and industrial uses. These water uses have continued to increase with growth in population and land development. Diversion of flow from channels, storage of water in reservoirs, and increased use of ground water have affected the distribution and timing of streamflows and the transport of fluvial sediments. All these factors have contributed to changes in channel geometry and the riverine environment.
In 1979, the U.S. Geological Survey began investigations in the Platte River basin to determine the effects of water use on the hydrology and morphology of the Platte River and its major tributaries. These investigations also considered the relationship of hydrologic regime to factors that control or affect the habitat of migratory waterfowl in the Platte River valley.
This volume brings together the results of several research studies on historical changes in channel morphology, surface-water hydrology, hydraulic geometry, sediment-transport and bedform processes, ground-water and surface-water relations, stochastic models of streamflow and precipitation, and methods for estimating discharge required to maintain channel width. In each of the studies, data on some segment of the Platte River hydrologic system were collected and interpreted. All the studies are interrelated; together they provide some degree of understanding of regime changes that are occurring. The hydrologic research described in the following chapters will be useful in decision-making pertaining to the management of water resources and migratory waterfowl habitats.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrologic and Geomorphic Studies of the Platte River Basin
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Geological Survey, WY-MT Water Science Center