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Application of the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) to simulate the streamflows and water balance of the Red River Basin, 1980–2016

June 8, 2023

The Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) was used to develop and calibrate a streamflow and water balance model for the Red River Basin as part of the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Census, a research effort focused on developing innovative water accounting tools and conducting assessments of water use and availability at regional and national spatial scales. The PRMS is a deterministic model that simulates the effects of climate, land cover, and water use on watershed hydrology on the basis of physical processes and spatial attributes of the watershed. The model was used to estimate streamflow at daily and monthly temporal scales for the 1980–2016 period and to evaluate the impacts of natural and anthropogenic influences on streamflow and water budget components.

Sixty-three percent of streamgages were calibrated successfully for the monthly time step and 43 percent of streamgages were successfully calibrated for the daily time step. Some of the challenges of calibrating streamgages included estimating low amounts of streamflow in dry areas of the basin and accurately representing watershed characteristics related to evapotranspiration in the basin, among other factors. The model estimated streamflow with some accuracy for 42 percent and 29 percent of the 73 streamgages used to evaluate the model at monthly and daily time steps, respectively. Relative to no-water-use conditions, water use increased streamflow volumes (that is, return flow from reservoir releases) the most on the main stem of the Red River, the North Fork of the Red River, and the Ouachita River. Water withdrawal decreased streamflow volumes most in the Red River near the outlet of the basin and in Caney Creek. Streamflow volumes on the North Fork of the Red River changed most as a result of water use. The Red River Basin PRMS model provided estimates of streamflow that were limited in their accuracy by (1) the availability of accurate water-use data; (2) the coarse resolution of spatial parameters (such as those for impervious area or plant canopy), which leads to the homogenization of physical features in small watersheds in the model domain; and (3) the accuracy of spatial patterns of precipitation distribution across the model domain. Improvements in the quality and quantity of available water-use data and finer resolution spatial parameter and climate data could lead to the development of better-informed models in the future that are capable of making more accurate estimates of streamflow, because they are more representative of physical and hydrologic conditions in the Red River Basin. 

Publication Year 2023
Title Application of the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) to simulate the streamflows and water balance of the Red River Basin, 1980–2016
DOI 10.3133/sir20225105
Authors Victor L. Roland
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2022-5105
Index ID sir20225105
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center