The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), conducted a study of the upper Lost River watershed in Orange County, Indiana, from 2012 to 2013. Streamflow and groundwater data were collected at 10 data-collection sites from at least October 2012 until April 2013, and a preliminary Water Availability Tool for Environmental Resources (WATER)-TOPMODEL based hydrologic model was created to increase understanding of the complex, karstic hydraulic and hydrologic system present in the upper Lost River watershed, Orange County, Ind. Statistical assessment of the optimized hydrologic-model results were promising and returned correlation coefficients for simulated and measured stream discharge of 0.58 and 0.60 and Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency values of 0.56 and 0.39 for USGS streamflow-gaging stations 03373530 (Lost River near Leipsic, Ind.), and 03373560 (Lost River near Prospect, Ind.), respectively. Additional information to refine drainage divides is needed before applying the model to the entire karst region of south-central Indiana. Surface-water and groundwater data were used to tentatively quantify the complex hydrologic processes taking place within the watershed and provide increased understanding for future modeling and management applications. The data indicate that during wet-weather periods and after certain intense storms, the hydraulic capacity of swallow holes and subsurface conduits is overwhelmed with excess water that flows onto the surface in dry-bed relic stream channels and karst paleovalleys. Analysis of discharge data collected at USGS streamflow-gaging station 03373550 (Orangeville Rise, at Orangeville, Ind.), and other ancillary data-collection sites in the watershed, indicate that a bounding condition is likely present, and drainage from the underlying karst conduit system is potentially limited to near 200 cubic feet per second. This information will direct future studies and assist managers in understanding when the subsurface conduits may become overwhelmed.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Surface-water and karst groundwater interactions and streamflow-response simulations of the karst-influenced upper Lost River watershed, Orange County, Indiana
Scientific Investigations Report
Originally posted March 18, 2014; Revised April 7, 2014