Water Resources Investigations Report 02-4018

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Wicklein, S.M., and Schiffer, D.M., 2002, Simulation of Runoff and Water Quality for 1990 and 2008 Land-Use Conditions in the Reedy Creek Watershed, East-Central Florida: Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4018, 74 p., appendixes on CD.


Hydrologic and water-quality data have been collected within the 177-square-mile Reedy Creek, Florida, watershed, beginning as early as 1939, but the data have not been used to evaluate relations among land use, hydrology, and water quality. A model of the Reedy Creek watershed was developed and applied to the period January 1990 to December 1995 to provide a computational foundation for evaluating the effects of future land-use changes on hydrology and water quality in the watershed.

The Hydrological Simulation Program-Fortran (HSPF) model was used to simulate hydrology and water quality of runoff for pervious land areas, impervious land areas, and stream reaches. Six land-use types were used to characterize the hydrology and water quality of pervious and impervious land areas in the Reedy Creek watershed: agriculture, rangeland, forest, wetlands, rapid infiltration basins, and urban areas. Hydrologic routing and water-quality reactions were simulated to characterize hydrologic and water-quality processes and the movement of runoff and its constituents through the main stream channels and their tributaries.

Because of the complexity of the stream system within the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) (hydraulic structures, retention ponds) and the anticipated difficulty of modeling the system, an approach of calibrating the model parameters for a subset of the gaged watersheds and confirming the usefulness of the parameters by simulating the remainder of the gaged sites was selected for this study. Two sub-watersheds (Whittenhorse Creek and Davenport Creek) were selected for calibration because both have similar land use to watersheds within the RCID (with the exception of urban areas). Given the lack of available rainfall data, the hydrologic calibration of the Whittenhorse Creek and Davenport Creek sub-watersheds was considered acceptable (for monthly data, correlation coefficients, 0.86 and 0.88, and coefficients of model-fit efficiency, 0.72 and 0.74, respectively). The hydrologic model was tested by applying the parameter sets developed for Whittenhorse Creek and Davenport Creek to other land areas within the Reedy Creek watershed, and by comparing the simulated results to observed data sets for Reedy Creek near Vineland, Bonnet Creek near Vineland, and Reedy Creek near Loughman. The hydrologic model confirmation for Reedy Creek near Vineland (correlation coefficient, 0.91, and coefficient of model fit efficiency, 0.78, for monthly flows) was acceptable. Flows for Bonnet Creek near Vineland were substantially under simulated. Consideration of the ground-water contribution to Bonnet Creek could improve the water balance simulation for Bonnet Creek near Vineland. On longer time scales (monthly or over the 72-month simulation period), simulated discharges for Reedy Creek near Loughman agreed well with observed data (correlation coefficient, 0.88). For monthly flows the coefficient of model-fit efficiency was 0.77. On a shorter time scale (less than a month), however, storm volumes were greatly over simulated and low flows (less than 8 cubic feet per second) were greatly under simulated. A primary reason for the poor results at low flows is the diversion of an unknown amount of water from the RCID at the Bonnet Creek near Kissimmee site.

Selection of water-quality constituents for simulation was based primarily on the availability of water-quality data. Dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus species were simulated. Representation of nutrient cycling in HSPF also required simulation of biochemical oxygen demand and phytoplankton populations. The correlation coefficient for simulated and observed daily mean dissolved oxygen concentration values at Reedy Creek near Vineland was 0.633. Simulated time series of total phosphorus, phosphate, ammonia nitrogen, and nitrate nitrogen generally agreed well with periodically observed values for the Whittenhorse Creek and Davenport Creek sites. Simulated water-quality constituents at the Bonnet Creek and Reedy Creek near Vineland sites varied as to how well the values agreed with periodically observed constituent concentrations. Simulated water-quality constituent concentrations for the Reedy Creek near Loughman site generally agreed well with observed constituent concentrations.

Simulation of a future land-use scenario for the Reedy Creek watershed was based on the hydrologic and water-quality simulations, projected 2008 land use within the RCID, and assuming no change in existing land use for other areas within the Reedy Creek watershed but external to the RCID. The percentages of forest and urban-impervious land use showed the most change between existing and future land use; forest areas decreased by 50 percent and urban-impervious areas increased by 300 percent. Simulated values of mean total phosphorus, phosphate, ammonia nitrogen, and nitrate nitrogen concentrations for existing and future land-use simulations were within 0.01 milligrams per liter of each other. The simulated maximum daily load increased an average of 10 percent for all constituents. Maximum daily nitrate nitrogen load increased about 17 percent, the greatest increase of all daily constituent loads. Duration curves of daily total phosphorus, phosphate, ammonia nitrogen, and nitrate nitrogen load indicated an increase in the likelihood of exceeding a given load throughout the range of daily constituent loads at Reedy Creek near Loughman.

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