Auxiliary Procedures for the AGNPS Model in Urban Fringe Watersheds


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Virginia Tech


The Agricultural Nonpoint Source model (AGNPS) is a single-event grid-based model used for simulating runoff, sediment and nutrients from agricultural areas. This study involved using geographic information system (GIS) spatial data and functionality to improve the spatial and temporal assignment of parameter values for the AGNPS 5.0 model and incorporated methods for representing urban fringe land uses and their nonpoint source (NPS) pollution contributions in model inputs.

Auxiliary procedures for modeling with AGNPS were developed both for enhancing input into the model and for enhancing modeled output. On an event basis, one procedure automated the creation of complex-formatted AGNPS 5.0 model input files using GIS as a spatial data manager. One pair of alternative procedures were developed to automate the assignment of parameter values on an event basis. One procedure used typical average annual parameter values, and the second assigned parameter values using adaptations of existing time-dependent relationships. On a monthly basis, a sequencing procedure was created to perform multiple runs with the model for a list of storms while updating parameters for each event and aggregating monthly modeled spatial output. Another pair of alternative procedures were developed to facilitate the simulation of monthly output from AGNPS modeled events. The first of these aggregated event output for all storms in each month, while the second supplemented the aggregated output with baseflow and septic system loads.

The study area was the 6,500 ha urbanizing Bull Run watershed in northern Virginia, which was modeled as 14,621 cells. Databases were assembled and 109 selected storm events within a 16-year period were modeled using the above procedures. Event data were added together, where necessary, to correspond with observed data from composite-sampled intervals. Output from the two event parameterization procedures were compared with monitored loads calculated for 89 composite periods, while output from the two monthly simulation procedures were compared with monthly monitored data for 23 complete months.

The monitored-modeled comparisons were considered inconclusive. Evidence strongly suggested that the rainfall records from a rain gauge outside the watershed did not correspond well with monitored runoff. The average runoff produced with the AGNPS model from the 109 selected storms amounted to 40.7% of rainfall, consistent with the calculated long-term average of 38% for the Bull Run watershed.

A nonpoint source pollution index was developed to utilize monthly modeled total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and suspended sediment. Individual rating curves were developed to separately transform loads and concentrations of each pollutant into sub-index values. The maximum sub-index from each parameter was added together and averaged for the index. The index was calculated at the watershed outlet from monitored data, and in a spatially-distributed fashion along all streams from simulated output.



geographic information systems, index, model interface, nonpoint source pollution