Sediment measurement and transport modeling: impact of riparian and filter strip buffers

J Environ Qual. 2011 May-Jun;40(3):807-14. doi: 10.2134/jeq2010.0066.


Well-calibrated models are cost-effective tools to quantify environmental benefits of conservation practices, but lack of data for parameterization and evaluation remains a weakness to modeling. Research was conducted in southwestern Oklahoma within the Cobb Creek subwatershed (CCSW) to develop cost-effective methods to collect stream channel parameterization and evaluation data for modeling in watersheds with sparse data. Specifically, (i) simple stream channel observations obtained by rapid geomorphic assessment (RGA) were used to parameterize the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model stream channel variables before calibrating SWAT for streamflow and sediment, and (ii) average annual reservoir sedimentation rate, measured at the Crowder Lake using the acoustic profiling system (APS), was used to cross-check Crowder Lake sediment accumulation rate simulated by SWAT. Additionally, the calibrated and cross-checked SWAT model was used to simulate impacts of riparian forest buffer (RF) and bermudagrass [ (L.) Pers.] filter strip buffer (BFS) on sediment yield and concentration in the CCSW. The measured average annual sedimentation rate was between 1.7 and 3.5 t ha yr compared with simulated sediment rate of 2.4 t ha yr Application of BFS across cropped fields resulted in a 72% reduction of sediment delivery to the stream, while the RF and the combined RF and BFS reduced the suspended sediment concentration at the CCSW outlet by 68 and 73%, respectively. Effective riparian practices have potential to increase reservoir life. These results indicate promise for using the RGA and APS methods to obtain data to improve water quality simulations in ungauged watersheds.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Computer Simulation / economics
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Cynodon / growth & development
  • Environmental Monitoring / economics
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Oklahoma
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rivers*
  • Species Specificity
  • Trees / growth & development
  • Water Movements
  • Water Supply / analysis