Science Inventory

A Manual to Identify Sources of Fluvial Sediment


Gellis, A., F. Fitzpatrick, AND J. Schubauer-Berigan. A Manual to Identify Sources of Fluvial Sediment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-16/210, 2016.


​​Sediment is an important pollutant of concern that can degrade and alter aquatic habitat. A sediment budget is an accounting of the sources, storage, and export of sediment over a defined spatial and temporal scale. This manual focuses on field approaches to estimate a sediment budget. We also highlight the sediment fingerprinting approach to attribute sediment to different watershed sources. Determining the sources and sinks of sediment is important in developing strategies to reduce sediment loads to water bodies impaired by sediment. Therefore, this manual can be used by states when developing a sediment TMDL requiring identification of sediment sources.


Sedimentation is one of the main causes of stream/river aquatic life use impairments in R3. Currently states lack standard guidance on appropriate tools available to quantify sediment sources and develop sediment budgets in TMDL Development. Methods for distinguishing sediment types for TMDL development will focus stream restoration and soil conservation efforts in strategic locations in a watershed and may better target appropriate BMPs to achieve sediment load reductions. Properly identifying sediment sources in a TMDL will also help focus NPDES permitting, stream restoration activities and other TMDL implementation efforts. This guidance document outlines steps and approaches to identify the significant sources of fine-grained sediment in 303D listed watersheds. In this framework, the sediment-fingerprinting and sediment budget approaches will be emphasized.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 02/09/2017
Record Last Revised: 05/17/2018
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 335394