A Comparitive Study of Stream-gaging Techniques for Low-flow Measurements in Two Virginia Tributaries

Journal of the American Water Resources Association

Nonpoint source pollution (NPS) studies, such as total maximum daily loads development, often require quantification of flow in small first-order and second-order streams. Frequently, stream-gaging techniques are implemented in flows that are below the manufacturer’s recommended minimum velocity. A comparative analysis of the accuracy of current technologies used in NPS pollution stream-gaging applications and their applicability in low-flow conditions was conducted. Nine stream-gaging methods were evaluated for their field and laboratory performance and control structures were used as the statistical control. Analysis of the field investigation data indicated that Marsh McBirney current meter and the One-orange method were the most accurate in the field while the results of the laboratory experiments found that the Starflow acoustic Doppler and Valeport Braystoke current meter performed best among the 10 methods. Overall, the Marsh McBirney and Valeport Braystoke current meters exhibited the best performance for both field and laboratory situations. 


Michelle L. Soupir, Saied Mostaghimi, and C.E. Mitchem, Jr