Evaluating SWAT model performance, considering different soils data input, to quantify actual and future runoff susceptibility in a highly urbanized basin

J Environ Manage. 2020 Jul 15;266:110625. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.110625. Epub 2020 Apr 20.


The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is a physical model designed to predict the hydrological processes that could characterize natural and anthropized watersheds. The model can be forced using input data of climate prediction models, soil characteristics and land use scenarios to forecast their effect on hydrological processes. In this study, the SWAT model has been applied in the Aspio basin, a small watershed, highly anthropized and characterized by a short runoff generation. Three simulations setup, named SL1, SL2 and SL3, were investigated using different soil resolution to identify the best model performance. An increase of space requirement and calibration time has been registered in conjunction with the increasing soil resolution. Among all simulations, SL1 has been chosen as the best one in describing watershed streamflow, despite it was characterized by the lower soil resolution. A map of susceptibility to runoff for the entire basin was so created reclassifying the runoff amount of four years in five classes of susceptibility, from very low to very high. Eleven sub-basins, coinciding with the main urban settlements, were identified as highly susceptible to runoff generation. Considering future climate predictions, a slight increase of runoff has been forecasted during summer and autumn. The map of susceptibility successfully identified as highly prone to runoff those sub-basins where extreme flood events were yet recorded in the past, remarking the reliability of the proposed assessment and suggesting that this methodology could represent a useful tool in flood managing plan.

Keywords: Extreme events; Hydrogeological risk; Numerical model; Risk management; Runoff.

MeSH terms

  • Hydrology
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Soil*
  • Water
  • Water Movements*


  • Soil
  • Water