Gravel transport, gravel harvesting, and channel-bed degradation in rivers draining the southern olympic mountains, Washington, U.S.A.
- Cite this article as:
- Collins, B.D. & Dunne, T. Environ. Geol. Water Sci (1989) 13: 213. doi:10.1007/BF01665371
The potential for gravel extraction to adversely affect anadromous fish habitat in three gravel-bed rivers of southwestern Washington, U.S.A., prompted the need to determine sustainable rates of gravel removal. This was accomplished by evaluating the components of a long-term sediment mass balance for the three rivers. Average annual gravel transport was determined by three independent methods. The closely agreeing results indicate that annual bedload supply decreases downstream through deposition and storage in response to declining gradient and from attrition during transport, as confirmed by laboratory experiments. A survey of gravel-bar harvesting operations indicates that the annual replenishment rate has been exceeded for up to three decades, often by more than tenfold. Analysis of data from nine stream gauging stations over a 55-yr period indicates degradation of about 0.03 m/yr in these reaches and suggests that bed degradation has produced the difference between the replenishment rates and the volumes of gravel harvested from the river beds and bars.