Bankfull hydraulic geometry relationships relate bankfull stream dimensions, such as cross-sectional area, width, mean depth, mean velocity, width to depth ratio, and slope to bankfull discharge. These relationships can assist in determining a design discharge for stream restoration and management projects. This study assessed 27 stable streams located in the Inner Bluegrass and Outer Bluegrass regions of Kentucky. Reaches were selected based on the presence of a U.S. Geological Survey gage, as well as other conditions such as presence of readily identifiable bankfull indicators, stability indices, and site accessibility. Bankfull channel dimensions and discharges were determined, and hydraulic geometry relationships were developed for both the Inner Bluegrass and Outer Bluegrass regions. These scaling relationships for karst-influenced streams were similar to others reported in the literature for non-karst areas. Significant differences between the regions were found only for bankfull width and width-to-depth ratio. Streams in the Inner Bluegrass tended to be more narrow and deep at bankfull discharges less than 10 m3s−1 and wider and shallower at bankfull discharges greater than 20 m3s−1 as compared to stream in the Outer Bluegrass. It is suspected that physiographic conditions related to local geology and/or riparian vegetation at three sites in the Outer Bluegrass accounted for these differences. Results of this study indicate that in instances of geologic variation within a physiographic region, hydraulic geometry relationships may require evaluation at the watershed scale.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Water, v. 3, issue 3, p. 923-948.

© 2011 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

This study was funded by a 319(h) grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Award Number: P02-590-0700010583) and the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture through the Senate Bill 271 program.

Related Content

The investigation reported in this paper is part of a project of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with approval of the Director.