Predicting the Interactions between Flow, Sediment, and Riparian Vegetation

Affiliation(s) PI Project period Funded by
DHS Chen, Li 05/20/2011 - 09/30/2012 Department of Interior

Project Description

The objective of this project is to develop tools to better predict the interactions of flow, sediment, and vegetation. One focus of the project is the development and documentation of a tool to predict the establishment and survival of riparian species. The other focus will be the development of methodologies and a tool to predict the effect of vegetation on river flood stage. A collaborative effort between Reclamation, the Desert Research Institute (DRI), and the University of New Mexico (UNM) recently got underway to advance the methodology of describing the influence of vegetation on channel hydraulics within Reclamation's SRH-2D model (Greimann, et al, 2008; Lai and Greimann, 2007; Lai and Greimann, 2008; Lai, 2009; Lai and Greimann, 2010). Past research by DRI, UNM, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has produced much of the field data and theory that will be necessary to develop the SRH-2D vegetation module (Stone et al. 2008; Chen and Stone 2010). To date, the USACE has supported over $300,000 worth of research at DRI and UNM on this topic. The primary product of this research will be a new module for Reclamation's SRH-2D model that is capable of representing the impacts of vegetation on water surface elevations and vegetation washout by high flows during floods. The resulting module will provide a powerful tool for Reclamation to evaluate the influence of flow management alternatives on riparian structure and the influence of riparian characteristics on flood risks. Even though this is an ambitious goal, there has been a significant amount of work already accomplished. We have also involved many collaborators with experience in this field.