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Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho (Sediment)

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posted on 2024-02-13, 14:01 authored by Frederick Pierson

Automated Sigma pump samplers were used at all RCEW gauging stations to collect instantaneous point measures of suspended-sediment concentration. The US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Northwest Watershed Research Center initiated a stream discharge and suspended-sediment research program at Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed in the early 1960s. Samples of suspended-sediment concentration were collected at Outlet, Tollgate, and Reynolds Mountain East gauging stations starting in the 1960s and continuing to the present. In early years, samples were collected manually during storm events using integrated samplers at the large weirs or simple grab samples at the smaller weirs. Later, a variety of early sediment samplers such as the U.S. PS-67 and U.S. PS-69 pumping samplers were tested and used in RCEW through cooperative efforts with other Agricultural Research Service locations, federal and state agencies, and universities. In recent years, automated Sigma pump samplers have been used at all gauging stations to collect a continuous record of instantaneous point measures of suspended-sediment concentration during high and low flows. Drop-box weirs have also performed well in RCEW over a wide range of discharges and sediment loads. Four additional types of stream-gauging devices are used in RCEW: (1) self-cleaning overflow V-notch (SCOV) weir, (2) 30 V-notch weir, (3) 90 V-notch weir, and (4) Parshall flume. All stations are equipped with stilling wells and floats for obtaining instantaneous measures of stage height. Instrument shelters are heated to permit collection of discharge and sediment data during cold winter periods. Gauging stations are visited on a weekly or biweekly basis to obtain independent stage height readings for error checking and to service all instrumentation. Stage height measurements were originally recorded using Leopold-Stevens A-35 and FW-1 strip chart recorders, later supplanted by electronic data loggers.

Resources in this dataset:

  • Resource Title: Stream Flow.

    File Name:

    Resource Description: Data for Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho (Sediment)




Data contact name

Pierson, Frederick

Data contact email


USDA Agricultural Research Service

Intended use

The Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCEW) stream discharge and sedimentation program provides fundamental information for research into hydrologic processes, precipitation-runoff relationships, hydrograph characteristics, water yield, and the interactive effects of climate, vegetation, soils, and land use on rangeland hydrologic response. The RCEW database provides a basis for evaluating temporal variability in hydrologic regime and water yield and for evaluating spatial variability within a typical upland rangeland landscape. Discharge and sediment data from RCEW have been particularly valuable for understanding complex upland runoff and sediment generation processes of rain and snowmelt on snow and frozen soils, which can produce flooding and property damage throughout the northwestern United States.

Use limitations

Pressure sensors are now used for redundant backup measurements of stage height to guard against the occasional plugging of stilling well inlet pipes. Accuracy of the continuous stage height measurements is periodically checked against independent staff gauge measurements. If necessary, corrections are made to the recorded data in a linear stepwise fashion between independent staff gauge readings. Stage height measurements are then used to create a digital record of discharge using appropriate calibration equations derived from standard design equations and refined using in situ current measurements.

Temporal Extent Start Date



  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


ISO Topic Category

  • environment
  • farming

Ag Data Commons Group

  • Great Basin
  • Long-Term Agroecosystem Research

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

samplers; automation; suspended sediment; watersheds; streams; storms; weirs; sediments; pollution load; sediment yield; hydraulic flumes; wells; cold; winter; instrumentation; microprocessors

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 211
  • 215

Primary article PubAg Handle

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Pierson, Frederick (2021). Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho (Sediment). USDA Agricultural Research Service.

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