Large rivers of the United States of America, such as the Mississippi River, are used for the transport of goods and commodities as well as for recreational activities. The Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) is used extensively by commercial barge traffic having a typical configuration of about 32.1 m by about 335.5 m in plan form, with a draft of 2.74 m. A barge convoy can move at speeds from about 1.3 to 4.4 m.s-1. Movement of such a body through a river cross-section creates significant temporary disturbances of the river environment. The changes in the river environment resulting from the movement of such traffic may include creation of waves and drawdown, altered velocity and pressure regimes, resuspension, and lateral movement of sediment. Research has been initiated to determine the physical changes associated with the movement of barge traffic and the way these changes may alter the river environment, if at all. This research involves collecting a comprehensive set of data and analyzing these data for the development of various functional relationships. These relationships will form the starting point for the determination of biological changes that may be associated with the frequent movement of commercial traffic within large river systems. Ultimately, all the functional relationships will be used to formulate and develop comprehensive management alternatives for the UMRS.