ERF1_2 -- Enhanced River Reach File 2.0

Open-File Report 2002-40

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The digital segmented network based on watershed boundaries, ERF1_2, includes enhancements to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's River Reach File 1 (RF1) (USEPA, 1996; DeWald and others, 1985) to support national and regional-scale surface water-quality modeling. Alexander and others (1999) developed ERF1, which assessed the hydrologic integrity of the digital reach traces and calculated the mean water time-of-travel in river reaches and reservoirs. ERF1_2 serves as the foundation for SPARROW (Spatially Referenced Regressions (of nutrient transport) on Watershed) modeling. Within the context of a Geographic Information System, SPARROW estimates the proportion of watersheds in the conterminous U.S. with outflow concentrations of several nutrients, including total nitrogen and total phosphorus, (Smith, R.A., Schwarz, G.E., and Alexander, R.B., 1997). This version of the network expands on ERF1 (Version 1.2; Alexander, et al., 1999) and includes the incremental and total drainage area derived from 1-kilometer (km) elevation data for North America. Previous estimates of the water time-of-travel were recomputed for reaches with water-quality monitoring sites that included two reaches. The mean flow and velocity estimates for these split reaches are based on previous estimation methods (Alexander et al., 1999) and are unchanged in ERF1_2. Drainage area calculations provide data used to estimate the contribution of a given nutrient to the outflow. Data estimates depend on the accuracy of node connectivity. Reaches split at water-quality or pesticide-monitoring sites indicate the source point for estimating the contribution and transport of nutrients and their loads throughout the watersheds. The ERF1_2 coverage extends the earlier drainage area founded on the 1-kilometer data for North America (Verdin, 1996; Verdin and Jenson, 1996). A 1-kilometer raster grid of ERF1_2 projected to Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area, NAD 27 Datum (Snyder, 1987), was merged with the HYDRO1K flow direction data set (Verdin and Jenson, 1996) to generate a DEM-based watershed grid, ERF1_2WS_LG. The watershed boundaries are maintained in a raster (grid cell) format as well as a vector (polygon) format for subsequent model analysis. Both the coverage, ERF1_2, and the grid, ERF1_2WS_LG, are available at: URL:

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
ERF1_2 -- Enhanced River Reach File 2.0
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Version 2.0, November 10, 2003
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA