A study of the Currituck Sound was initiated in 2005 to evaluate the water chemistry of the Sound and assess the effectiveness of management strategies. As part of this study, the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was used to simulate current sediment and nutrient loadings for two distinct watersheds in the Currituck Sound basin and to determine the consequences of different water-quality management scenarios. The watersheds studied were (1) Tull Creek watershed, which has extensive row-crop cultivation and artificial drainage, and (2) West Neck Creek watershed, which drains urban areas in and around Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The model simulated monthly streamflows with Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiency coefficients of 0.83 and 0.76 for Tull Creek and West Neck Creek, respectively. The daily sediment concentration coefficient of determination was 0.19 for Tull Creek and 0.36 for West Neck Creek. The coefficient of determination for total nitrogen was 0.26 for both watersheds and for dissolved phosphorus was 0.4 for Tull Creek and 0.03 for West Neck Creek.
The model was used to estimate current (2006-2007) sediment and nutrient yields for the two watersheds. Total suspended-solids yield was 56 percent lower in the urban watershed than in the agricultural watershed. Total nitrogen export was 45 percent lower, and total phosphorus was 43 percent lower in the urban watershed than in the agricultural watershed. A management scenario with filter strips bordering the main channels was simulated for Tull Creek. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool model estimated a total suspended-solids yield reduction of 54 percent and total nitrogen and total phosphorus reductions of 21 percent and 29 percent, respectively, for the Tull Creek watershed.