The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the San Antonio River Authority, configured, calibrated, and tested a Hydrological Simulation Program ? FORTRAN watershed model for the approximately 238-square-mile Leon Creek watershed in Bexar County, Texas, and used the model to simulate streamflow and water quality (focusing on loads and yields of selected constituents). Streamflow in the model was calibrated and tested with available data from five U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging stations for 1997-2004. Simulated streamflow volumes closely matched measured streamflow volumes at all streamflow-gaging stations. Total simulated streamflow volumes were within 10 percent of measured values. Streamflow volumes are greatly influenced by large storms. Two months that included major floods accounted for about 50 percent of all the streamflow measured at the most downstream gaging station during 1997-2004.
Water-quality properties and constituents (water temperature, dissolved oxygen, suspended sediment, dissolved ammonia nitrogen, dissolved nitrate nitrogen, and dissolved and total lead and zinc) in the model were calibrated using available data from 13 sites in and near the Leon Creek watershed for varying periods of record during 1992-2005. Average simulated daily mean water temperature and dissolved oxygen at the most downstream gaging station during 1997-2000 were within 1 percent of average measured daily mean water temperature and dissolved oxygen. Simulated suspended-sediment load at the most downstream gaging station during 2001-04 (excluding July 2002 because of major storms) was 77,700 tons compared with 74,600 tons estimated from a streamflow-load regression relation (coefficient of determination = .869). Simulated concentrations of dissolved ammonia nitrogen and dissolved nitrate nitrogen closely matched measured concentrations after calibration. At the most downstream gaging station, average simulated monthly mean concentrations of dissolved ammonia and nitrate concentrations during 1997-2004 were 0.03 and 0.37 milligram per liter, respectively. For the most downstream station, the measured and simulated concentrations of dissolved and total lead and zinc for stormflows during 1993-97 after calibration do not match particularly closely. For base-flow conditions during 1997-2004 at the most downstream station, the simulated/measured match is better. For example, median simulated concentration of total lead (for 2,041 days) was 0.96 microgram per liter, and median measured concentration (for nine samples) of total lead was 1.0 microgram per liter.
To demonstrate an application of the Leon Creek watershed model, streamflow constituent loads and yields for suspended sediment, dissolved nitrate nitrogen, and total lead were simulated at the mouth of Leon Creek (outlet of the watershed) for 1997-2004. The average suspended-sediment load was 51,800 tons per year. The average suspended-sediment yield was 0.34 ton per acre per year. The average load of dissolved nitrate at the outlet of the watershed was 802 tons per year. The corresponding yield was 10.5 pounds per acre per year. The average load of lead at the outlet was 3,900 pounds per year. The average lead yield was 0.026 pound per acre per year.
The degree to which available rainfall data represent actual rainfall is potentially the most serious source of measurement error associated with the Leon Creek model. Major storms contribute most of the streamflow loads for certain constituents. For example, the three largest stormflows contributed about 64 percent of the entire suspended-sediment load at the most downstream station during 1997-2004.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Simulation of streamflow and water quality in the Leon Creek watershed, Bexar County, Texas, 1997-2004