Allegheny River Bathymetry

In an effort to better characterize benthic habitats found in the Allegheny River, WPC has undertaken a large bathymetry mapping initiative, the first of its kind, in the Allegheny River.

Preliminary steps included building a comprehensive geographic information system (GIS) of all significant information about the Allegheny River. Navigational information (lock and dam structures, buoys, marinas), obstructions (underwater cables, pipelines, and bridges) and water quality information (river flow, gauge height, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection data) was compiled into a robust database. Numerous Army Corps of Engineers navigation charts were scanned and georectified to build a river polygon into which all new depth data could be entered. The overall goal of the mapping portion of the project is to build a visual representation of current depth profiles found in the Allegheny River pools section.

In February 2007, WPC purchased a 23-foot research vessel from a Riverside 7 Seas Marine in Middletown, Pennsylvania. The vessel was outfitted for use by WPC scuba divers as well as bathymetry mapping staff. Mapping began in May of 2007 with a total of just 17 field days completed to allow SWG divers ample boat time due to a pending  grant deadline for the mussel diving project. To date, 16.1 river miles have been mapped, which includes 100% of Pool 6, 100% of Pool 5, and a small portion (<10%) of Pool 8. We have discovered many localities that could be considered prime habitat for freshwater species based on depth characteristics alone. In addition to areas of pristine habitat, we have also found locations that have been severely altered by anthropogenic actions. In Pool 5 we found locations that had sheer drop-off walls and dredge holes to depths of 69.54 feet. Future mapping efforts will include Pool 8 to be completed by fall of 2007 and Pool 4 being slated as possible for the 2007 field season. WPC plans to disseminate all mapping products to any interested party and is exploring the option of hosting this information on a WPC server, which could be navigated from the internet.   

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