Stream restoration efforts have been ongoing in Maryland since the early 1990s. Physical stream restoration often involves replacement of lost sediments to elevate degraded streambeds, re-establishment of riffle-pool sequences along the channel profile, planting vegetation in riparian zones, and re-constructing channel banks, point bars, flood plains, and stream-meanders. The primary goal of many restoration efforts is to re-establish geomorphic stability of the stream channel and reduce erosive energy from urban runoff. Monitoring streams prior to and after restoration could help quantify other possible benefits of stream restoration, such as improved water quality and biota.
This report presents general watershed characteristics associated with the Minebank Run watershed; a small, urban watershed in the south-central section of Baltimore County, Maryland that was physically restored in phases during 1999, 2004, and 2005. The physiography, geology, hydrology, land use, soils, and pre-restoration geomorphic setting of the unrestored stream channel are discussed.
The report describes a reach of Minebank Run that was selected for the purpose of collecting several types of environmental data prior to restoration, including continuous-record and partial-record stage and streamflow data, precipitation, and ground-water levels. Examples of surface-water data that were collected in and near the study reach during water years 2002 through 2004, including continuous-record streamflow, partial-record stage and discharge, and precipitation, are described. These data were used in analyses of several characteristics of surface-water hydrology in the watershed, including (1) rainfall totals, storm duration, and intensity, (2) instantaneous peak discharge and daily mean discharge, (3) stage-discharge ratings, (4) hydraulic-geometry relations, (5) water-surface slope, (6) time of concentration, (7) flood frequency, (8) flood volume, and (9) rainfall-runoff relations.
Several hydrologic characteristics that are typical of urban environments were quantified by these analyses. These include (1) large ratios of peak discharge to daily mean discharge as an indicator of flashiness, (2) consistent shifting of the stage-discharge rating over short periods of time that indicates instability of the stream channel, (3) analyses of hydraulic-geometry relations that indicate mean velocities of 11 feet per second or more while the flow is contained in the stream channel, (4) discharges that are 4 to 5 times larger in Minebank Run for corresponding flood frequency recurrence intervals than in Slade Run, which is a Piedmont watershed of similar size with smaller percentages of urban development, and (5) flood waves that can travel through the stream channel at a velocity of 412 feet per minute, or 6.9 feet per second.