Simulations of hydrologic response in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, Southeastern United States

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5133

U.S. Geological Survey National Water Census and Water Availability and Use Science Program



A suite of hydrologic models has been developed for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (ACFB) as part of the National Water Census, a U.S. Geological Survey research program that focuses on developing new water accounting tools and assessing water availability and use at the regional and national scales. Seven hydrologic models were developed using the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS), a deterministic, distributed-parameter, process-based system that simulates the effects of precipitation, temperature, land cover, and water use on basin hydrology. A coarse-resolution PRMS model was developed for the entire ACFB, and six fine-resolution PRMS models were developed for six subbasins of the ACFB. The coarse-resolution model was loosely coupled with a groundwater model to better assess the effects of water use on streamflow in the lower ACFB, a complex geologic setting with karst features. The PRMS coarse-resolution model was used to provide inputs of recharge to the groundwater model, which in turn provide simulations of groundwater flow that were aggregated with PRMS-based simulations of surface runoff and shallow-subsurface flow. Simulations without the effects of water use were developed for each model for at least the calendar years 1982–2012 with longer periods for the Potato Creek subbasin (1942–2012) and the Spring Creek subbasin (1952–2012). Water-use-affected flows were simulated for 2008–12. Water budget simulations showed heterogeneous distributions of precipitation, actual evapotranspiration, recharge, runoff, and storage change across the ACFB. Streamflow volume differences between no-water-use and water-use simulations were largest along the main stem of the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee River Basins, with streamflow percentage differences largest in the upper Chattahoochee and Flint River Basins and Spring Creek in the lower Flint River Basin. Water-use information at a shorter time step and a fully coupled simulation in the lower ACFB may further improve water availability estimates and hydrologic simulations in the basin.

Suggested Citation

LaFontaine, J.H., Jones, L.E., and Painter, J.A., 2017, Simulations of hydrologic response in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, Southeastern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5133, 112 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Hydrologic Description of the ACFB
  • Hydrologic Simulation Methods Used for Modeling the ACFB
  • Hydrologic Simulations and Streamflow Statistics in the ACFB
  • Discussion
  • Model Limitations
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Construction, Calibration, and Evaluation of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (ACFB) Coarse-Resolution Hydrologic Model 
  • Appendix 2. Construction, Calibration, and Evaluation of Fine-Resolution Hydrologic Models of Six Subbasins of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (ACFB)

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Simulations of hydrologic response in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, Southeastern United States
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
South Atlantic Water Science Center
Report: x, 112 p.; Data Release
United States
Other Geospatial:
Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin
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