Model for simulating runoff and erosion in ungaged watersheds

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Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This research, which developed a distributed parameter model for simulating runoff in ungaged areas, can assist in nonpoint pollution control planning efforts. The sediment detachment and transport component of this finite element storm hydrograph model (FESHM) enables its additional use for simulating erosion processes which result from runoff. Though not dependent on calibration, the FESHM, when applied to fieldscale areas, does require extensive information on the field's soils, topography, and cover characteristics.

Application of the FESHM, however, is not limited to field-scale areas. Although most research using the model has been conducted on watersheds of 2 to 1,000 acres, it has performed adequately on watersheds as large as 193 square miles. The FESHM's hydrologic section compares favorably with other watershed models currently in use (ANSWERS, H EC-1, TR-20, and USGS State Equations), in terms of data preparation and execution costs. A sediment washload capability has been demonstrated but presently remains unverified. Work is progressing toward verification.