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Measured and simulated runoff to the lower Charles River, Massachusetts, October 1999-September 2000

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2002-4129

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Abstract

The lower Charles River, the water body between the Watertown Dam and the New Charles River Dam, is an important recreational resource for the Boston, Massachusetts, metropolitan area, but impaired water quality has affected its use. The goal of making this resource fishable and swimmable requires a better understanding of combined-sewer-overflow discharges, non-combined-sewer-overflow stormwater runoff, and constituent loads. This report documents the modeling effort used to calculate non-combined-sewer-overflow runoff to the lower Charles River. During the 2000 water year, October 1, 1999?September 30, 2000, the U.S. Geological Survey collected precipitation data at Watertown Dam and compiled data from five other precipitation gages in or near the watershed. In addition, surface-water discharge data were collected at eight sites?three relatively homogenous land-use sites, four major tributary sites, and the Charles River at Watertown Dam, which is the divide between the upper and lower watersheds. The precipitation and discharge data were used to run and calibrate Stormwater Management Models developed for the three land-use subbasins (single-family, multi-family, and commercial), and the two tributary subbasins (Laundry and Faneuil Brooks). These calibrated models were used to develop a sixth model to simulate 54 ungaged outfalls to the lower Charles River. Models developed by the U.S. Geological Survey at gaged sites were calibrated with up to 24 storms. Each model was evaluated by comparing simulated discharge against measured discharge for all storms with appreciable precipitation and reliable discharge data. The model-fit statistics indicated that the models generally were well calibrated to peak discharge and runoff volumes. The model fit of the commercial land-use subbasin was not as well calibrated compared to the other models because the measured flows appear to be affected by variable conditions not represented in the model. A separate Stormwater Management Model of the Stony Brook Subbasin previously developed by others was evaluated with the newly collected data from this study; this model had a model fit comparable to the models developed by the U.S. Geological Survey. The total annual runoff to the lower Charles River during the 2000 water year, not including contributions from combined-sewer-overflows except from the Stony Brook Subbasin, was 16,500 million cubic feet; 92 percent of the inflow was from the Charles River above Watertown Dam, 3 percent was from the Stony Brook Subbasin, 2 percent was from the Muddy River Subbasin, and less than 1 percent was from the combined inflows of Laundry and Faneuil Brooks. The remaining ungaged drainage area contributed about 2 percent of the total annual inflow to the lower Charles River. Excluding discharge from the Charles River above Watertown Dam, total annual runoff to the lower Charles River was 1,240 million cubic feet; 39 percent was from the Stony Brook Subbasin, 27 percent was from the Muddy River, which includes runoff that drains to the Muddy River conduit, 7 percent was from the Laundry Brook Subbasin, and 4 percent was from the Faneuil Brook Subbasin. Flow from the ungaged areas composed about 23 percent of the total annual inflow to the lower Charles River, excluding discharge from the Charles River above Watertown Dam. Runoff to the lower Charles River was calculated for two design storms representing a 3-month and a 1-year event, 1.84 and 2.79 inches of total rainfall, respectively. These simulated discharges were provided to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority for use in a receiving-water model of the lower Charles River. Total storm runoff to the lower Charles River was 111 and 257 million cubic feet for the 3-month and 1-year storms, respectively. Excluding discharge from the Charles River above Watertown Dam, total runoff to the lower Charles River was 30 and 53 million cubic feet for the 3-month and 1-year storms, respectively. Runoff from

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Measured and simulated runoff to the lower Charles River, Massachusetts, October 1999-September 2000
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2002-4129
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2002
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
vi, 89 p. : ill. (some col.), col. maps ; 28 cm.