Natural-resource agencies are concerned about possible geomorphic effects of a proposed diversion project to reduce the flood risk in the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. The U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collected data in the spring of 2010 and 2011, and from June to November 2011, during rainfall-runoff events and base-flow conditions to provide information on sediment transport. The data were used to examine sediment concentrations, loads, and particle-size distributions at nine selected sites in the Red River and its tributaries near the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. Suspended-sediment concentration varied among sites in 2010 and 2011. The least suspended-sediment concentrations were measured at the Red River (site 1) and the Buffalo River (site 9), and the greatest concentrations were measured at the two Sheyenne River sites (sites 3 and 4). Estimated daily suspended-sediment loads were highly variable in 2010 and 2011 in the Red River and its tributaries, with the greatest loads occurring in the spring and the smallest loads occurring in the winter. For the Red River, daily suspended-sediment loads ranged from 26 to 3,500 tons per day at site 1 and from 30 to 9,010 tons per day at site 2. For the Sheyenne River, daily loads ranged from less than 10 to 10,200 tons per day at site 3 and from less than 10 to 4,530 tons per day at site 4. The mean daily load was 191 tons per day in 2010 and 377 tons per day in 2011 for the Maple River, and 610 tons per day in 2011 for the Wild Rice River (annual loads were not computed for 2010). For the three sites that were only sampled in 2011 (sites 7, 8 and 9), the mean daily suspended-sediment loads ranged from 40 tons per day at the Lower Branch Rush River (site 8) to 118 tons per day at the Buffalo River (site 9). For sites that had estimated loads in 2010 and 2011 (sites 1–5), estimated annual (March–November) suspended-sediment loads were greater in 2011 compared to 2010. In 2010, annual loads ranged from 68,650 tons per year at the Maple River (site 5) to 249,040 tons per year at the Sheyenne River (site 3). In 2011, when all nine sites were sampled, annual loads ranged from 8,716 tons per year at the Lower Branch Rush River (site 8) to 552,832 tons per year at the Sheyenne River (site 3). With the exception of the Sheyenne River (site 4), the greatest monthly loads occurred in March for 2010, with as little as 27 percent (site 1) and as much as 42 percent (site 3) of the annual load occurring in March. For 2011, the greatest monthly loads occurred in April, ranging from 33 percent (site 1) to 63 percent (site 7) of the 2011 annual load. A relatively small amount of sediment was transported past the nine sites as bedload in 2010 and 2011. For most of the samples collected at the nine sites, the bedload composed less than 1 percent of the calculated daily total sediment load.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Sediment loads in the Red River of the North and selected tributaries near Fargo, North Dakota, 2010--2011
Scientific Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey
North Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center