The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is responsible for monitoring flows in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) near Lemont, Illinois, as a part of the Lake Michigan Diversion Accounting overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District. Lake Michigan Diversion Accounting is mandated by a U.S. Supreme Court decree in order to monitor, and limit, the State of Illinois’ annual diversion of Great Lakes water through the manmade CSSC. Every 5 years, a technical review committee consisting of practicing engineers and academics reviews USGS streamgaging practices in the CSSC near Lemont, Illinois. The sixth technical review committee expressed concern that the index-velocity rating—the method used to estimate mean cross-sectional velocity from a measured index velocity—may be subject to hysteresis at this site because of the unique, unsteady hydraulics of the canal. Hysteresis in index-velocity ratings can occur at sites where the flow distribution in the channel varies significantly between the rising and falling limbs of the hydrograph for the same discharge. Presently, hysteresis in index-velocity ratings has been documented only in tidally affected sites. This report investigates whether hysteresis can occur at this nontidal site, and the conditions under which it is likely to occur, by using both a theoretical approach and a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model. The theoretical analysis investigated the conditions required for hysteresis in the index-velocity rating, and the modeling analysis focused on the effect of the timing of the inflows from the CSSC and the Cal-Sag Channel on the potential for hysteresis and whether highly resolved simulations of actual high-flow events show any evidence of hysteresis. Based on both a theoretical analysis using observed historical data and an analysis using a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model, there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of hysteresis in the index-velocity rating at the USGS streamgage on the CSSC near Lemont, Illinois. Although the theoretical analysis indicated the possibility of hysteresis at this site, the hydrodynamic conditions required to generate hysteresis are not present at this site based on historical data. Ongoing streamgaging practices at this site will use the information in this report and include periodic assessment of the index-velocity rating for any signs of hysteresis that might result from future changes to the operation of this manmade canal.
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USGS Numbered Series
Evaluation of the potential for hysteresis in index-velocity ratings for the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Lemont, Illinois