Eastern Colorado Crest-Stage Network, 2018 through 2020: [Research Brief]
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Eastern Colorado Crest-Stage Network, 2018 through 2020: [Research Brief]

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    The objective of this study was to collect peak-streamflow data at the 10 sites in eastern Colorado identified in figure 1 using crest-stage gages for water years (October 1 to September 20) 2018-2020. The scope of this effort for each site each year includes survey levels, water level data collection, data entry, streamgage records, publication of peak streamflow, and site maintenance. Each site was located on an ephemeral stream that crossed through a culvert under a highway or county road. At each site, two crest-stage gages were installed, one was located approximately one culvert width upstream of the culvert entrance and the second was located approximately one culvert width downstream of the culvert exit to facilitate the computation of flood discharge. A crest-stage gage is a device that is used to economically record peak stage of a flood event. Typically, a crest-stage gage (figure 2) is comprised of a steel pipe fixed in a vertical position that is vented using several intake holes in the bottom of the pipe. When a flood occurs, the pipe fills to the flood stage level outside the pipe. The flood stage level is recorded by a pressure transducer mounted at a known elevation and cork dust deployed at the bottom of the pipe provides a replicate record of the peak stage. Once the peak stage is recorded, the peak discharge can be determined using the culvert indirect discharge method. Crest-stage gages require less infrastructure to operate and do not require telemetry, which results in cost savings over traditional streamgages. Pressure transducers allow for a complete stage record to be collected instead of simply the peak stage. Installing crest-stage gages equipped with pressure transducers provided an economic alternative to installing and operating traditional streamgages particularly in ephemeral streams common in eastern Colorado because the cork dust method simply leaves evidence of the peak water level that occurred during a flood and does not provide information on duration or timing of the peak. The crest-stage gages with pressure transducers and cork dust were be operated seasonally during late spring, summer, and early fall when the peak streamflow is most likely to occur. The crest-stage gages were still operated during late fall, winter, or early spring with traditional cork dust only because this time of year most streams in eastern Colorado are dry.
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