Assessing the impact of site-specific BMPs using a spatially explicit, field-scale SWAT model with edge-of-field and tile hydrology and water-quality data in the Eagle Creek watershed, Ohio

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Abstract

The Eagle Creek watershed, a small subbasin (125 km2) within the Maumee River Basin, Ohio, was selected as a part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) “Priority Watersheds” program to evaluate the effectiveness of agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) funded through GLRI at the field and watershed scales. The location and quantity of BMPs were obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service National Conservation Planning (NCP) database. A Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was built and calibrated for this predominantly agricultural Eagle Creek watershed, incorporating NCP BMPs and monitoring data at the watershed outlet, an edge-of-field (EOF), and tile monitoring sites. Input air temperature modifications were required to induce simulated tile flow to match monitoring data. Calibration heavily incorporated tile monitoring data to correctly proportion surface and subsurface flow, but calibration statistics were unsatisfactory at the EOF and tile monitoring sites. At the watershed outlet, satisfactory to very good calibration statistics were achieved over a 2-year calibration period, and satisfactory statistics were found in the 2-year validation period. SWAT fixes parameters controlling nutrients primarily at the watershed level; a refinement of these parameters at a smaller-scale could improve field-level calibration. Field-scale modeling results indicate that filter strips (FS) are the most effective single BMPs at reducing dissolved reactive phosphorus, and FS typically decreased sediment and nutrient yields when added to any other BMP or BMP combination. Cover crops were the most effective single, in-field practice by reducing nutrient loads over winter months. Watershed-scale results indicate BMPs can reduce sediment and nutrients, but reductions due to NCP BMPs in the Eagle Creek watershed for all water-quality constituents were less than 10%. Hypothetical scenarios simulated with increased BMP acreages indicate larger investments of the appropriate BMP or BMP combination can decrease watershed level loads.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Assessing the impact of site-specific BMPs using a spatially explicit, field-scale SWAT model with edge-of-field and tile hydrology and water-quality data in the Eagle Creek watershed, Ohio
Series title Water
DOI 10.3390/w10101299
Volume 10
Issue 10
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher MDPI
Contributing office(s) Central Midwest Water Science Center
Description Article 1299; 37 p.
First page 1
Last page 37
Country United States
State Ohio
Other Geospatial Eagle Creek Watershed