Estimation of Daily Streamflow and Water Availability in the Massachusetts Sustainable-Yield Estimator, Version 2.0

Science Center Objects

The Massachusetts Sustainable-Yield Estimator is a decision-support tool that provides estimates of daily unaltered streamflow, water-use-adjusted streamflow, and water availability for ungaged, user-defined sites in Massachusetts. In this recently completed study, version 2.0 of the original Sustainable-Yield Estimator (Archfield and others, 2010) was developed with minor changes to the estimation methodology and updated water-use data for the state.

Map showing reference gages used in the Massachusetts Sustainable-Yield Estimator development and application

Map showing reference gages used in the Massachusetts Sustainable-Yield Estimator development and application.

    This decision-support tool estimates daily streamflow at the ungaged site for unaltered (no water use) and water-use scenarios. The procedure for estimating streamflow was developed previously (Archfield and others, 2010) and has been implemented with minor changes and updated water-use data in version 2.0 of the Massachusetts Sustainable-Yield Estimator. Unaltered streamflow at selected exceedance probabilities is estimated by previously published regression equations. A daily streamflow time series is produced for the ungaged site by relating the estimated flow duration curve at the ungaged site to a flow duration curve at a gaged reference site and then transferring the dates from the reference site to the ungaged site.

    Minor refinements were made to the previously published methods to estimate unaltered and water-use-adjusted streamflow, including a procedure to enforce the monotonic structure of the regression-based unaltered flow quantiles, improvements to the interpolation method used for computing the estimated flow duration curve, and updates to the methods used to compute time-lagged stream alterations from groundwater pumping or discharges. Additionally, a procedure was developed to estimate prediction intervals for daily and monthly unregulated streamflow time series at an ungaged site.

The Housatonic River near Lee, Massachusetts

The Housatonic River near Lee, Massachusetts

(Credit: Tracey Thayer. Photograph by Tracey Thayer, used with permission​​​​​​​.)

    The Massachusetts Sustainable-Yield Estimator computes water-use-adjusted streamflow using water-use data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Available water-use data included monthly withdrawal and wastewater discharge volumes from 2010 to 2014 for surface-water and groundwater sources. Water-use-adjusted streamflow represents the potential effect of current water use on natural streamflow in the basin over the range of historical hydrologic conditions. Georeferenced water withdrawal and discharge volumes were incorporated into the Massachusetts StreamStats web application (https://www.usgs.gov/mission-areas/water-resources/science/streamstats?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects) for use in version 2.0 of the Massachusetts Sustainable-Yield Estimator. To compute water-use-adjusted streamflow, mean daily withdrawals and discharges within a user-defined basin are subtracted and added to the unaltered time series, respectively. Surface-water volumes are applied directly to the equation. Time-lagged streamflow alterations from groundwater withdrawal or wastewater discharge sources are estimated using a response coefficient method developed using results of previously published, calibrated groundwater models in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Sustainable-Yield Estimator version 2.0 software was updated to improve software stability and usability. The version 2.0 software application was developed in Microsoft Access with a graphical user interface. All geoprocessing steps including basin delineation and compilation of basin characteristics and water use within the basin were completed in the Massachusetts StreamStats web application and exported for use by the Massachusetts Sustainable-Yield Estimator version 2.0.

    This study was completed in 2018 with the publication of a Scientific Investigations Report, version 2.0 of the Sustainable-Yield Estimator software, and a User Manual for the software. The study was conducted in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.