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Bear Creek at Friendsville, Garrett County, Maryland.

Surface Water Monitoring and Sediment Studies (SWMSS) Team

Studies within the USGS Maryland-Delaware-DC Water Science Center are divided into teams. To find out more about the SWMSS Team's current projects, publications, and capabilities, please visit the links in the left menu.

SWMSS Team Projects

Click on the name of a project below to learn more about that project.


Many U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Centers have responsibilities for coastal regions within their mission areas. The integrated Surge, Wave, and Tide Hydrologic (SWaTH) Network has been developed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to support model development and verification for coastal regions, detection of hydrologic trends, and early warning of hydrologic hazards in the northeast from Virginia to Maine.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Surge, Wave, and Tide Hydrologic (SWaTH) Network in Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia


USGS hydrographer deploys a storm-surge sensor prior to Hurricane Rita in 2005.



For over 100 years, the Patapsco River has been impacted by the presence of several dams that were designed and built at the beginning of the 20th century. The objective of the project is to monitor suspended-sediment transport resulting from the removal of Simkins Dam on the lower Patapsco River in November 2010. The role of USGS in the project includes operation and maintenance of 3 stream gages along the main stem of the lower Patapsco River for continuous discharge and turbidity, and periodic suspended-sediment sampling during base flow and selected storms.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Long-Term Response Monitoring of Suspended-Sediment Transport Characteristics on the Patapsco River near Ellicott City, Maryland, in Response to the Removal of Simkins Dam, 2010-present

Station 01589000, Patapsco River at Hollofield--looking downstream at low-water control section.
Station 01589000, Patapsco River at Hollofield--looking downstream at low-water control section.



Urban streams frequently undergo severe incision and erosion due to flashy streamflows caused by impervious surfaces in the watershed. The study was designed to investigate the hydrodynamics and geomorphology of a selected reach of Minebank Run before and after stream restoration, in order to determine the effect that stream restoration had on sediment processes in the stream.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Geomorphic Responses to Stream Channel Restoration at Minebank Run, Baltimore County, Maryland

Looking upstream at centerline of stream channel from station 0158397967, Minebank Run near Glen Arm, MD, October 2004, just after physical restoration in the gage reach.
Looking upstream at centerline of stream channel from station 0158397967, Minebank Run near Glen Arm, MD, October 2004, just after physical restoration in the gage reach.



The National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network was created in 1980 and seeks to understand how specific ecosystems change over time.

For more than three decades, the LTER Network has generated rigorous, site-based scientific research that has led to important findings on both regional and continental scales.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Baltimore Ecosystem Study, Long-Term Ecological Research

01589180, Gwynns Falls at Glyndon, MD
01589180, Gwynns Falls at Glyndon, MD



Montgomery County, Maryland has designated the Clarksburg region as a Special Protection Area (SPA) within the county. In the early 2000s, plans to initiate development in the Clarksburg watersheds emphasized a need to improve stream gage coverage in the area, in order to monitor current hydrologic conditions, and changes in hydrology over time as the area is developed.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Streamgaging in the Clarksburg Special Protection Area of Montgomery County, Maryland

Looking downstream at channel in vicinity of station 01644371, Little Seneca Creek tributary near Clarkburg, MD as development proceeds in the watershed.
Looking downstream at channel in vicinity of station 01644371, Little Seneca Creek tributary near Clarkburg, MD as development proceeds in the watershed.



Planned development in the Ten Mile Creek watershed presents an opportunity to monitor the surface-water hydrology and stream geomorphology before, during, and after the development to assess watershed responses over time.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Enhanced hydrologic and geomorphic monitoring in Ten Mile Creek, Montgomery County, Maryland

Looking downstream at a contracted section of channel in Ten Mile Creek, February 2014.
Looking downstream at a contracted section of channel in Ten Mile Creek, February 2014.



Many urban rivers, stream, lakes, forests, and wetlands in the United States are polluted, degraded, and inaccessible. The Urban Waters Partnership was developed to reconnect economically underserved urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies, and collaboration among agencies and organizations at all levels in different metropolitan areas across the Nation.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Baltimore-Patapsco Federal Urban Waters Partnership

Streamgaging in Baltimore’s urban areas: Station 01585219, Herring Run at Sinclair Lane at Baltimore, MD.
Streamgaging in Baltimore’s urban areas: Station 01585219, Herring Run at Sinclair Lane at Baltimore, MD.



The goal of the Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) project is to evaluate the interactions between urban development patterns and the hydrologic cycle and its associated nutrient cycles, within the context of regional and local climate variability. The specific objective is to create a modeling system capable of simulating the feedback relations that control urban water sustainability.

For more information, visit the project webpage:

Collaborative Research, Water Sustainability and Climate-Category 2: Regional Climate Variability and Patterns of Urban Development—Impacts on the Urban Water Cycle and Nutrient Export

01589320, Dead Run Tributary at Woodlawn, MD
01589320, Dead Run Tributary at Woodlawn, MD



The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) seeks to enable local and State government to reduce risks of harm to person, property, and environment for the majority of Marylanders posed by major coastal storms by assessing how natural features and associated best management and governance practices and structures can contribute to increased regional protection.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Determination of the Natural Resiliency of Critical Infrastructure in Response to Flooding Events in the Gunpowder, Patapsco, and Patuxent River Watersheds, Maryland, 2014

Station 01594440, Patuxent River near Bowie, MD, looking downstream at channel from US-50 bridge during Tropical Storm Lee, September 9, 2011.
Station 01594440, Patuxent River near Bowie, MD, looking downstream at channel from US-50 bridge during Tropical Storm Lee, September 9, 2011.



Recent and ongoing efforts to develop the land in the area around Deep Creek Lake, Garrett County, Maryland, are expected to change the volume of sediment moving toward and into the lake, as well as impact the water quality of the lake and its many tributaries.

Proposed dredging of the lake bottom to improve boat access has raised concerns about the adverse environmental effects such activities would have on the lake.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDDNR) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) entered into a cooperative study during 2007 and 2008 to address these issues.

Sunrise at Deep Creek Lake, Garrett County, Maryland.
Sunrise at Deep Creek Lake, Garrett County, Maryland.



Deep Creek Lake is located in Garrett County, Maryland and is the largest inland body of water in the State. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDDNR) is responsible for the Lake's management and operation of Lake for recreational purposes.

As a result of many Lake-shore residents and MDDNR staff having noted infilling in shallow parts of the Lake due to increased sedimentation, the USGS collected geophysical data to characterize the sedimentation in shallow headwater coves of Deep Creek Lake.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Collection, Processing, and Interpretation of Ground-Penetrating Radar Data to Determine Sediment Thickness at Selected Locations in Deep Creek Lake, Garrett County, Maryland, 2007

Continuous sediment coring operations, Deep Creek Lake, Garrett County, Maryland.
Continuous sediment coring operations, Deep Creek Lake, Garrett County, Maryland.



The Lower Monocacy River watershed, which includes Lake Linganore, has been identified as impaired by sediment and nutrients (phosphorus), and as such has an imposed sediment and phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

In order to reduce sediment and phosphorous loadings, it is necessary to conduct a 3-step approach:

U.S. Geological Survey Hoverprobe, Lake Linganore, Frederick County, Maryland.
U.S. Geological Survey Hoverprobe, Lake Linganore, Frederick County, Maryland.

(1) Identify the significant sources of sediment and phosphorous to Lake Linganore,

(2) Develop and implement plans to reduce sediment and phosphorous to Lake Linganore,

(3) Monitor the effectiveness of actions in reducing sediment and phosphorous.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Water Volume and Sediment Accumulation in Lake Linganore, Frederick County, Maryland, 2009




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