Comparison Watershed Selection When Applying the AllForX Approach for Sediment TMDL Development

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Virginia Tech

This study compared physical characteristics used when selecting comparison (healthy) watersheds for the All-Forested Load Multiplier (AllForX) Approach, and examined a quantitative watershed characteristic as a selection criterion. The AllForX Approach uses a regression relationship between Virginia Stream Condition Index (VSCI) scores and AllForX values (a unit-less multiplier that is the ratio of a modeled existing sediment load divided by a modeled all-forested load condition) for an impaired watershed and several comparison watersheds to develop sediment TMDL target loads. The Generalized Watershed Loading Function (GWLF) model was used to simulate sediment loads for 20 watersheds (four impaired and 16 comparison) in the Upper James and New River basins in Virginia's Ridge and Valley physiographic region. Results suggest that within Virginia's Ridge and Valley physiographic region it may be possible to select comparison watersheds that are of a different stream order (watershed size) and lie in different river basins from the impaired watershed. Results further indicated that the topographic index (TI) distributions were not different across the modeled watersheds, indicating the watersheds are hydrologically similar. These results support selecting comparison watersheds regardless of river basin or stream order within Virginia's Ridge and Valley physiographic region. Finally, there was no statistical difference between the AllForX regressions when using the entire period of record or the two most recent VSCI data points. Therefore, for the watersheds modeled for this study, either all of the VSCI samples or the two most recent may be used in the AllForX Approach.

TMDL, Water quality, benthic impairment, sediment, Modeling