Long-Term Bed Degradation in Maryland Streams (Phase III Part 2): Urban Streams in the Piedmont Plateau Province

Estimation of potential long-term down-cutting of the streambed is necessary for evaluation and design of bridges for scour and culverts for fish passage. The purpose of this study has been to improve predictions of this potential long-term bed degradation (LTBD) in Maryland streams through the measurement and analysis of streambed and waterway structure survey data and bridge plans. Long-term bed degradation was defined as the vertical change in the channel profile other than that caused by local or contraction scour. A total of 41 sites in Frederick, Carroll, Montgomery, Baltimore, and Howard counties, Baltimore City, and Washington, DC, were selected for data collection. Drainage areas of these sites in the Piedmont Plateau physiographic provinces ranged from 0.2−62.1 mi². At each sampling site, the vertical drop at the outlet of the structure was measured with a pocket rod and a hand level. These rapid measurements were conducted where a step, a series of steps, a steep section, or a riprap-protected streambed was at the outlet of a culvert or a bridge with a paved or riprap-protected invert or downstream apron. Four of the six factors that may influence a site’s risk of LTBD were also investigated. These include (1) the valley slope, (2) the effective floodplain width, (3) discharge, and (4) downstream channel entrenchment. The possibility of developing regional relations between LTBD and either watershed area or percent impervious area was evaluated for the physiographic province, but the data were inconclusive. Two relations between LTBD and the risk factors were examined: LTBD and valley slope; and LTBD and an index combining Factors 1-4. A comparison of the resulting equations revealed that valley slope was as good a predictor of the susceptibility of a site to LTBD as the index that required additional data and considered more parameters. The relation between valley slope and LTBD was recommended to estimate LTBD for streams with slopes of less than 0.03 ft/ft. The relation should not be applied, however, to structures located in deep deposits of sediment created by backwater from dams or other structures or to structures located in streams with evidence of active channel degradation. The development of rate relationships for LTBD was also considered, but the number of available structure plans was insufficient to develop a rate relation. Future research on LTBD in Maryland should include the development of a method to include the effectiveness of downstream bed controls in limiting degradation, and the development of a rate relation should be explored further.

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    81 Mosher Street
    Baltimore, MD  United States  21217

    Maryland State Highway Administration

    Office of Policy and Research, 707 North Calvert Street
    Baltimore, MD  United States  21202
  • Authors:
    • Parola Jr, Arthur C
    • Oberholtzer, Ward L
    • Altland, Drew
  • Publication Date: 2017-2


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 34p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01634701
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: MD-17-SP409B4H
  • Contract Numbers: SP409B4H
  • Created Date: May 15 2017 3:17PM