A study was conducted to characterize sediment transport upstream and downstream from a proposed dam on the First Broad River near the town of Lawndale in Cleveland County, North Carolina. Streamflow was measured continuously, and 381 suspended-sediment samples were collected between late March 2008 and September 2009 at two monitoring stations on the First Broad River to determine the suspended-sediment load at each site for the period April 2008-September 2009. In addition, 22 bedload samples were collected at the two sites to describe the relative contribution of bedload to total sediment load during selected events. Instantaneous streamflow, suspended-sediment, and bedload samples were collected at Knob Creek near Lawndale, North Carolina, to describe general suspended-sediment and bedload characteristics at this tributary to the First Broad River. Suspended- and bedload-sediment samples were collected at all three sites during a variety of flow conditions. Streamflow and suspended-sediment measurements were compared with historical data from a long-term (1959-2009) streamflow station located upstream from Lawndale. The mean streamflow at the long-term streamflow station was approximately 60 percent less during the study period than the long-term annual mean streamflow for the site. Suspended-sediment concentrations and continuous records of streamflow were used to estimate suspended-sediment loads and yields at the two monitoring stations on the First Broad River for the period April 2008-September 2009 and for a complete annual cycle (October 2008-September 2009), also known as a water year. Total suspended-sediment loads during water year 2009 were 18,700 and 36,500 tons at the two sites. High-flow events accounted for a large percentage of the total load, suggesting that the bulk of the total suspended-sediment load was transported during these events. Suspended-sediment yields during water year 2009 were 145 and 192 tons per square mile at the two monitoring stations. Historically, the estimated mean annual suspended-sediment yield at the long-term streamflow station during the period 1970-1979 was 250 tons per square mile, with an estimated mean annual suspended-sediment load of 15,000 tons. Drought conditions throughout most of the study period were a potential factor in the smaller yields at the monitoring stations compared to the yields estimated at the long-term streamflow station in the 1970s. During an extreme runoff event on January 7, 2009, bedload was 0.4 percent, 0.8 percent, and 0.1 percent of the total load at the three study sites, which indicates that during extreme runoff conditions the percentage of the total load that is bedload is not significant. The percentages of the total load that is bedload during low-flow conditions ranged from 0.1 to 90.8, which indicate that the bedload is variable both spatially and temporally.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Suspended sediment and bedload in the First Broad River Basin in Cleveland County, North Carolina, 2008-2009