Submitted to: National Watershed Conference National Watershed Coalition
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/8/2003
Publication Date: 1/28/2004
Citation: Britton, S.L., Hanson, G.J., Temple, D.M. 2004. Watershed systems: a historic look at research by the USDA-ARS Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit. In: Proceedings of the 8th National Watershed Coalition Conference. National Watershed Coalition, Council Bluffs, Iowa. 2004 CDROM. Interpretive Summary: Hydraulic engineering research has progressed over the past 65 years at the USDA-ARS Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit in Stillwater, Oklahoma. From its first charter to investigate vegetated channels, research has expanded to include hydraulic structures that have shaped the landscape of the United States into what it is today. Research at the laboratory has assisted engineers worldwide in making sound engineering judgments. The research projects discussed herein are only a small representation of the research conducted at the ARS Hydraulic Laboratory, particularly those projects related to USDA-NRCS related structures. The studies outlined in this document are those primarily related to flood water control structures, including trash racks, cantilever pipe outlets, vegetated spillways, RCC stepped spillways, headcut erosion, and embankment overtopping. The laboratory has gained national and international recognition as a significant contributor of sound design criteria for soil and water conservation structures and channels. The Agricultural Research Service, of which the laboratory is a part, remains committed to providing U.S. agriculture with the technology required for sustainable production of a safe, high quality, food supply.
Technical Abstract: Small watershed systems have painted the landscape throughout the United States over the past 50 years. Throughout these 50 years, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has partnered with, and provided technical assistance to, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for the purpose of assisting with engineering issues related to small watershed systems. The focus of this paper is to give a historic perspective on the contributions by the ARS Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit in Stillwater, OK, to support the watershed program of the NRCS. The early-day purpose of the laboratory was to study the hydraulics of vegetated-lined channels including terrace outlet channels, farm reservoir emergency spillways, diversions, and meadow strips. Research later expanded to hydraulic structures such as cantilevered pipe outlets, trash racks, hood inlet pipe spillways, box inlet drops, and rock chutes. Recent and current research has been focused on spillway erosion and embankment overtopping. With many of the flood control reservoirs built by the NRCS reaching their planned service life, focus has moved to rehabilitating these structures. The future of these structures and the research to address their technical requirements are also briefly discussed herein.