Abstract

Monumented channel cross sections were resurveyed over a period of 20 yrs (1953 to 1972) to determine the amount and kind of change of channel area and position on a 3.7-sq-mi basin, Watts Branch near Rockville, Maryland. For the first 12 yrs, the channel progressively but slowly became smaller as urbanization of the basin gradually proceeded. After 1966, a threshold of change apparently was passed and, probably as a result of an increased rate of land alteration upstream, large amounts of sediment were deposited within the channel and overbank. The number of floods exceeding channel capacity increased dramatically from an average of two to more than ten per year. Simultaneously, the channel area began to increase. Despite the trend toward increasing cross-sectional area, the net result after 20 yrs was a channel smaller by 20 percent than it had been originally. Urbanization did not alter the rate of channel migration.

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