Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Frequency and magnitude of bedload transport downstream of the Pelton-Round Butte Dam Complex, lower Deschutes River, Oregon

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  • A first-order approximation is made of the frequency and magnitude of bedload transport downstream of the Pelton-Round Butte Dam Complex, lower Deschutes River, Oregon with implications for salmonid spawning habitat. Field measurements of channel hydraulics, geometry, and particle size were combined with one-dimensional hydraulic and bedload transport models to determine the streamflow needed to move the channel bed material and to predict how much material would move once bedload transport was initiated. Inflows and outflows from the Dam Complex, and the predicted bedload carried by each, were compared to evaluate the effect of the Dam Complex on downstream discharge and bedload transport. Predicted critical discharges were equaled or exceeded very infrequently during the 72-year streamflow record. In addition, discharges capable of transporting bed material exceeded threshold conditions by very little. This has resulted in low predicted rates and amounts of bedload transport over the period of record. The Pelton-Round Butte Dam Complex was found to slightly increase the magnitude of flood peaks and associated predicted bedload transport for post-dam transport events exceeding threshold transport conditions. An exception to this pattern was the effect of the Dam Complex on the flood of December 1964, the second largest flood on record. This large flood occurred under unique circumstances -- while the reservoir of Round Butte Dam was filling for the first time. Since none of the transport events that occurred after the reservoir finished filling were affected by the Dam Complex in the same way as the 1964 event, the influence of the Complex on the 1964 flood is considered unique. The two largest floods on record (1964 and 1996), despite their relatively large sizes with respect to all other recorded flood events, did not cause major morphological changes to the lower Deschutes River. This observation, along with other independently derived information, supports the conclusion that the lower Deschutes is a very stable river.
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