The upstream reaches of the Kankakee River in Indiana have been channelized, straightened, and ditched to facilitate agriculture; the downstream reaches of the river in Illinois have not been so altered. Concerns about the adjustments of this low-gradient river in response to these disturbances have led to studies of sedimentation along the Kankakee River in Illinois. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began a study in 1992 to determine sedimentation characteristics of the Kankakee River in Illinois. As part of this study, changes in channel cross-section geometry and channel volume were determined by comparing measurements of cross-section geometry over time in two reaches of the Kankakee River. The study documents some of the adjustments of the Kankakee River to land-use changes and channelization in the upstream drainage area. The timing, magnitude, and process of adjustment are of interest in developing a better understanding of how alluvial stream systems in agricultural areas respond to disturbances in the drainage area. The data used for the study included cross-section measurements made by two State of Illinois agencies from 1959 to 1980 and measurements made by the USGS in 1994.
The analyses indicated a net aggradation of about 133,600 cubic yards (yd3) of sediment in the Momence Wetlands reach, a naturally meandering reach of the river, from 1980 to 1994. Aggradation occurred at 25 cross sections in this reach, and scour occurred at 10 cross sections. All but one of the cross sections in the upstream third of the reach indicated aggradation, whereas aggradation and scour were found in the middle and downstream thirds of the reach. The magnitude of change was greatest in the middle third of the reach and was least in the downstream third of the reach.
A net aggradation of approximately 298,600 yd3 of sediment was indicated for the Six-Mile Pool, a pooled reach of the river upstream from a dam, from 1978 to 1994. Approximately 182,900 yd3 of sediment accumulated from 1980 to 1994, and approximately 115,700 yd3 of sediment accumulated from 1978 to 1980. Most of the aggradation occurred in the middle third of the Six-Mile Pool reach.