Flow estimation for stream restoration and wetland projects in ungaged watersheds using continuous simulation modeling


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Virginia Tech


More than a billion dollars are spent annually on stream restoration in the United States (Bernhardt et al., 2005), but the science remains immature. A promising technique for estimating a single or range of design discharges is the generalization of a parsimonious conceptual continuous simulation model. In this study the Probability Distributed Model (PDM), was generalized for the Maryland and Virginia Piedmont. Two hundred and sixty years of daily average flow data from fifteen watersheds were used to calibrate PDM. Because the application of the study is to stream restoration, the model was calibrated to discharges greater than two times baseflow and less than flows with a return period of ten years. The hydrologic calibration parameters were related to watershed characteristics through regression analysis, and these equations were used to calculate regional model parameters based on watershed characteristics for a single "ungaged" independent evaluation watershed in the region. Simulated flow was compared to observed flow; the model simulated discharges of lower return periods moderately well (e.g., within 13% of observed for a flow with a five year return period). These results indicate this technique may be useful for stream restoration and wetland design.



rainfall-runoff, ungaged stream, stream restoration, design discharge