The McTier Creek watershed is located in the Sand Hills ecoregion of South Carolina and is a small catchment within the Edisto River Basin. Two watershed hydrology models were applied to the McTier Creek watershed as part of a larger scientific investigation to expand the understanding of relations among hydrologic, geochemical, and ecological processes that affect fish-tissue mercury concentrations within the Edisto River Basin. The two models are the topography-based hydrological model (TOPMODEL) and the grid-based mercury model (GBMM). TOPMODEL uses the variable-source area concept for simulating streamflow, and GBMM uses a spatially explicit modified curve-number approach for simulating streamflow. The hydrologic output from TOPMODEL can be used explicitly to simulate the transport of mercury in separate applications, whereas the hydrology output from GBMM is used implicitly in the simulation of mercury fate and transport in GBMM. The modeling efforts were a collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory.
Calibrations of TOPMODEL and GBMM were done independently while using the same meteorological data and the same period of record of observed data. Two U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging stations were available for comparison of observed daily mean flow with simulated daily mean flow-station 02172300, McTier Creek near Monetta, South Carolina, and station 02172305, McTier Creek near New Holland, South Carolina. The period of record at the Monetta gage covers a broad range of hydrologic conditions, including a drought and a significant wet period. Calibrating the models under these extreme conditions along with the normal flow conditions included in the record enhances the robustness of the two models.
Several quantitative assessments of the goodness of fit between model simulations and the observed daily mean flows were done. These included the Nash-Sutcliffe coefficient of model-fit efficiency index, Pearson's correlation coefficient, the root mean square error, the bias, and the mean absolute error. In addition, a number of graphical tools were used to assess how well the models captured the characteristics of the observed data at the Monetta and New Holland streamflow-gaging stations. The graphical tools included temporal plots of simulated and observed daily mean flows, flow-duration curves, single-mass curves, and various residual plots. The results indicated that TOPMODEL and GBMM generally produced simulations that reasonably capture the quantity, variability, and timing of the observed streamflow. For the periods modeled, the total volume of simulated daily mean flows as compared to the total volume of the observed daily mean flow from TOPMODEL was within 1 to 5 percent, and the total volume from GBMM was within 1 to 10 percent. A noticeable characteristic of the simulated hydrographs from both models is the complexity of balancing groundwater recession and flow at the streamgage when flows peak and recede rapidly. However, GBMM results indicate that groundwater recession, which affects the receding limb of the hydrograph, was more difficult to estimate with the spatially explicit curve number approach. Although the purpose of this report is not to directly compare both models, given the characteristics of the McTier Creek watershed and the fact that GBMM uses the spatially explicit curve number approach as compared to the variable-source-area concept in TOPMODEL, GBMM was able to capture the flow characteristics reasonably well.