Effects of regulation on L-moments of annual peak streamflow in Texas

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2001-4243




Several techniques exist to estimate annual peak-streamflow frequency for streamflows that have recurrence intervals ranging from 2 to 500 years for natural (unregulated) drainage basins in Texas. Unfortunately, such techniques have limited applicability in regulated basins. There are numerous regulated basins throughout Texas, which has more than 7,000 dams that are identified by Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission permits. The effects on annual peak-streamflow from reservoirs created by these dams range from negligible to the complete suppression of the flood hydrograph; also, reservoirs can artificially create flood-like hydrographs. The large number of reservoirs and their widespread distribution in Texas necessitate an assessment of flood characteristics in regulated basins. Therefore, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation, conducted a study of the effects of regulation on L-moments of annual peak streamflow in Texas. For this report, the State was divided into three regions. Four regression equations to estimate the L-moments of natural annual peak-streamflow data for ungaged sites were derived for each region from data for 367 streamflow-gaging stations in natural basins. The explanatory variables in the equations are contributing drainage area, basin shape factor, and stream slope. The effects of regulation on the L-moments of annual peak-streamflow data were determined by analysis of maximum and normal storage-capacity data from reservoirs for 96 streamflow-gaging stations in variously regulated basins. The results indicate that as potential flood storage (defined by the difference between total maximum and normal capacity) in a basin increases, the mean annual peak-streamflow decreases nonlinearly. Evidence strongly indicates (despite contrary expectation) that the higher L-moments (coefficient of L-variation, L-skew, and L-kurtosis) are unaffected by regulation.

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USGS Numbered Series
Effects of regulation on L-moments of annual peak streamflow in Texas
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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66 p., 2 over-size sheets