Water Resources Professional Project Reports


Jeb E. Brown

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The collection of suspended-sediment concentration data is costly and time consuming, and poses risks to field personnel, yet many managers and scientists require these data. Turbidity is an optical property of the clarity of water which, if correlated to suspended-sediment concentration, can produce timely, high resolution data at significantly reduced cost. The correlation of suspended-sediment and turbidity has been proven in a number of streams, but the success is site specific and limited by changing variables such as sediment particle size, sediment color, and presence of organic and biological material, among other factors. This study determines the ability of turbidity to predict suspended-sediment concentration at nine sites in the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, using correlation, and simple and multiple linear regression models. These models ranged from quite weak (adjusted r\xb2 = 0.3903 at Rio Grande San Felipe, NM) to useful (adjusted r\xb2 = 0.9213 at Rio Grande above highway 380 near San Antonio, NM). While statistical significance may be lower than desired, suspended-sediment concentration was more correlated with turbidity at all sites than it was with streamflow, thus proving suspended-sediment to have a stronger relationship with turbidity than the broadly accepted relationship with streamflow in the Middle Rio Grande, NM.

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suspended-sediment concentration, turbidity, Middle Rio Grande


A Professional Project report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, at the University of New Mexico.