The U.S. Geological Survey---in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District; City of Corpus Christi; Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority; San Antonio River Authority; and San Antonio Water System---configured, calibrated, and tested a watershed model for a study area consisting of about 7,726 square miles of the middle Nueces River watershed in south Texas. The purpose of the model is to contribute to the understanding of watershed processes and hydrologic conditions in the middle Nueces River watershed. The model simulates streamflow, evapotranspiration, and groundwater recharge by using a numerical representation of physical characteristics of the landscape and meteorological and streamflow data. Model simulations of streamflow, evapotranspiration, and groundwater recharge were performed for various periods of record depending upon available gaged data for input and comparison, starting as early as 1961. Because of the large size of the study area, the middle Nueces River watershed was divided into eight subwatersheds, and separate Hydrological Simulation Program---FORTRAN models were developed for each subwatershed. Simulation of the overall study area involved running simulations in downstream order. Output from the model was summarized by subwatershed, point locations, stream and reservoir reaches, and the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer outcrop area. Four long-term U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging stations were used for streamflow model calibration and testing with data from 1990 to 2008. Monthly evaporation estimates from 2001 to 2008 and water-level data from 1961 to 2008 at Lake Corpus Christi also were used for model calibration. Additionally, evapotranspiration data for 2006-8 from a U.S. Geological Survey meteorological station in Medina County were used for calibration. Streamflow calibrations were considered poor to very good. The 2000-8 calibration results were characterized as good to very good for total flow volumes and for the volume of the highest 10 percent of daily flows. Calibration results for streamflow volumes of the lowest 50 percent of daily flows were considered poor. The daily streamflow calibration at U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging station 08210000 Nueces River near Three Rivers, Tex., had the lowest (best) root mean square error, and U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging station 08194500 Nueces River near Tilden, Tex., had the highest root mean square error expressed as a percentage of the mean flow rate. The mean daily reservoir volume during 1961-2008 was 182,000 acre-feet. Simulated mean daily reservoir volume was within 9 percent of this computed volume. Selected results of the model include streamflow yields for the subwatersheds and water-balance information for the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer outcrop area. For the entire model domain, the area-weighted mean streamflow yield from 1961 to 2008 was 1.12 inches/year. The mean annual rainfall on the outcrop area during the 1961-2008 simulation period was 21.7 inches. Of this rainfall, an annual mean of 20.1 inches (about 93 percent) was simulated as evapotranspiration, 1.2 inches (about 6 percent) was simulated as groundwater recharge, and 0.5 inches (about 2 percent) was simulated as surface runoff.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Simulation of streamflow, evapotranspiration, and groundwater recharge in the middle Nueces River watershed, south Texas, 1961-2008