The Texas Department of Transportation spends considerable money for maintenance and replacement of low-water crossings of streams in the Edwards Plateau in Central Texas as a result of damages caused in part by the transport of cobble- and gravel-sized bed material. An investigation of the problem at low-water crossings was made by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation, and in collaboration with Texas Tech University, Lamar University, and the University of Houston. The bed-material entrainment problem for low-water crossings occurs at two spatial scales - watershed scale and channel-reach scale. First, the relative abundance and activity of cobble- and gravel-sized bed material along a given channel reach becomes greater with increasingly steeper watershed slopes. Second, the stresses required to mobilize bed material at a location can be attributed to reach-scale hydraulic factors, including channel geometry and particle size. The frequency of entrainment generally increases with downstream distance, as a result of decreasing particle size and increased flood magnitudes. An average of 1 year occurs between flows that initially entrain bed material as large as the median particle size, and an average of 1.5 years occurs between flows that completely entrain bed material as large as the median particle size. The Froude numbers associated with initial and complete entrainment of bed material up to the median particle size approximately are 0.40 and 0.45, respectively.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Potential for Bed-Material Entrainment in Selected Streams of the Edwards Plateau - Edwards, Kimble, and Real Counties, Texas, and Vicinity