Link to USGS Home Page

Dye Studies --
Willamette River Water Temperature Investigation

Home | Overview | Willamette bathymetric survey | Dye studies | Width survey | N. Santiam temperature model


As part of the U.S. Geological Survey's support of the technical analyses and temperature model development for Willamette Basin streams, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) personnel carried out four dye studies in Willamette Basin streams in 2002. Two were performed in the Long Tom River, and two were done in the Willamette River. The dye studies in each river system were performed once in the spring under moderately high-flow conditions, then once in the late summer under low-flow conditions. These data are useful for modeling studies because they provide critical information on travel time and dispersion.


Calibration of models to time-of-travel data is an important step in model development. Dye studies are the typical means of obtaining travel time data, and such studies already have been performed on almost all reaches of interest for the Willamette temperature TMDL study, except for the Willamette River in the Portland Harbor (river mile [RM] 0-26.5) and the Long Tom River. Most of the available travel time data were collected in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the USGS (Harris, 1968). Later USGS dye studies characterized the time-of-travel in the Clackamas River and other small streams in the Willamette River Basin (Laenen and Bencala, 2001; Lee, 1995). Fernald and others (2001) also carried out a dye study over a 16-mile reach in the Willamette River near Harrisburg (RM 161). A comparison of the older data from Harris (1968) with travel time data collected in a reach of the Willamette River in the early 1990s (Lee, 1995) was favorable, showing that the older travel time data may still be valid.

In this study, USGS personnel performed dye tracer studies on both the Long Tom River, to fill in the data gap, and on a 25-mile (approximate) reach of the main stem Willamette River, to verify the accuracy of Harris' travel time data. Dye studies were carried out under two different flow conditions, once in May/June and once in August/September of 2002. Standard techniques and rhodamine WT dye were used.

Download Data

The data from each dye study were worked up by Antonius Laenen (USGS, retired) and documented in several spreadsheet (Excel) and word processor (Word) files. The results were grouped for each dye study and zipped together. The ZIP files may be downloaded from the links below:

o 2002 Willamette River dye studies:
Willamette River - June, 2002 [ZIP, 465 Kb]
Willamette River - September, 2002 [ZIP, 45 Kb]
o 2002 Long Tom River dye studies:
Long Tom River - May, 2002 [ZIP, 58 Kb]
Long Tom River - August, 2002 [ZIP, 62 Kb]
o Miscellaneous Willamette River Basin dye studies:
Clackamas River - 1992 [ZIP, 10 Kb]
Willamette River - June, 1992 [ZIP, 37 Kb]
Santiam River - June, 1995 [ZIP, 29 Kb]

The miscellaneous dye-study data are from dye studies conducted by USGS, but not for this investigation. These data include dye studies in the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers from 1992, and from the Santiam River from 1995. Each ZIP file contains a spreadsheet with the data and some information about publications or the source of the data.


Fernald, A.G., Wigington, P.J., and Landers, D.H., 2001, Transient storage and hyporheic flow along the Willamette River, Oregon: Field measurements and model estimates, Water Resources Research, 37(6), 1681-1694.

Harris, D.D., 1968, Travel rates of water for selected streams in the Willamette River Basin, Oregon: U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Investigations Atlas HA-273, 2 sheets.

Laenen, A. and Bencala, K.E., 2001, Transient storage assessments of dye-tracer injections in rivers of the Willamette Basin, Oregon, J. American Water Resources Assn., 37(2), 367-377.

Lee, K.K., 1995, Stream velocity and dispersion characteristics determined by dye-tracer studies on selected stream reaches in the Willamette River Basin, Oregon: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4078, 39 p.

Home | Overview | Willamette bathymetric survey | Dye studies | Width survey | N. Santiam temperature model

Questions? Comments? For more information about this project, contact:

Stewart Rounds
U.S. Geological Survey
2130 SW 5th Avenue
Portland, OR 97201

Oregon Water Science Center Home page
Oregon Water Science Center Hydrologic Studies page

U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Maintainer: Oregon Webteam
Last modified Wednesday - Dec 21, 2016 at 18:55:54 EST
Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo