Model analysis of check dam impacts on long-term sediment and water budgets in southeast Arizona, USA

Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology
By:  and 



The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of check dam infrastructure on soil and water conservation at the catchment scale using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). This paired watershed study includes a watershed treated with over 2000 check dams and a Control watershed which has none, in the West Turkey Creek watershed, Southeast Arizona, USA. SWAT was calibrated for streamflow using discharge documented during the summer of 2013 at the Control site. Model results depict the necessity to eliminate lateral flow from SWAT models of aridland environments, the urgency to standardize geospatial soils data, and the care for which modelers must document altering parameters when presenting findings. Performance was assessed using the percent bias (PBIAS), with values of ±2.34%. The calibrated model was then used to examine the impacts of check dams at the Treated watershed. Approximately 630 tons of sediment is estimated to be stored behind check dams in the Treated watershed over the 3-year simulation, increasing water quality for fish habitat. A minimum precipitation event of 15 mm was necessary to instigate the detachment of soil, sediments, or rock from the study area, which occurred 2% of the time. The resulting watershed model is useful as a predictive framework and decision-support tool to consider long-term impacts of restoration and potential for future restoration.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Model analysis of check dam impacts on long-term sediment and water budgets in southeast Arizona, USA
Series title Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology
DOI 10.1016/j.ecohyd.2015.12.001
Volume 16
Issue 3
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Western Geographic Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 125
Last page 137
Country United States
State Arizona
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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