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Linkage of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool and the Texas Water Availability Model to simulate the effects of brush management on monthly storage of Canyon Lake, south-central Texas, 1995-2010

January 23, 2014

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, developed and applied an approach to create a linkage between the published upper Guadalupe River Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) brush-management (ashe juniper [Juniperus ashei]) model and the full authorization version Guadalupe River Water Availability Model (WAM). The SWAT model was published by the USGS, and the Guadalupe River WAM is available from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The upper Guadalupe River watershed is a substantial component of the Guadalupe River WAM. This report serves in part as documentation of a proof of concept on the feasibility of linking these two water-resources planning models for the purpose of simulating possible increases in water storage in Canyon Lake as a result of different brush-management scenarios.

The SWAT-WAM linkage for the upper Guadalupe River is documented with a principal objective to evaluate the distributional characteristics of the monthly water storage of Canyon Lake during selected drought conditions. Focus is on the relative evaluation of select scenarios of large-scale or “extensive” brush management within the upper Guadalupe River watershed. There are six SWAT simulations for the upper Guadalupe River watershed that include a baseline (0-percent management of treatable ashe juniper, the baseline scenario from a previous study in which no percentage of ashe juniper is numerically replaced with grassland) along with five scenarios (extensions of SWAT simulations from a previous study) of 20-, 40-, 60-, 80-, and 100-percent random (numerical) replacement of treatable ashe juniper with grasslands throughout the upper Guadalupe River watershed in south-central Texas.

SWAT is a process-based, semidistributed, water-balance model designed to predict the effects of landscape management decisions on water yields. A watershed is subdivided into subbasins, and each subbasin is associated with a single reach on the stream network. In general a WAM, such as the Guadalupe River WAM, provides analysis of generalized water rights in a river and reservoir framework. A WAM accommodates hydrology and water usage through several input files containing water rights, watershed parameters, and naturalized streamflow time series. A WAM is generalized for application to rivers and reservoir systems, and input datasets are uniquely developed for a river basin of concern.

The extractions of SWAT output for the five extensive brush-management and baseline scenarios were offset by –21 years and, in general, the results were then mapped to the WAM input-flow file. The offset of –21 years was chosen arbitrarily for technical reasons and means that the period of monthly record 1995–2010 of the upper Guadalupe River SWAT became the synthetic period of monthly record 1974–89, hereinafter 1974–89 (synthetic) period, of the Guadalupe River WAM.

The relative (between scenario to baseline) effects of extensive brush-management scenarios by using the SWAT-WAM linkage were evaluated, and two critical intermediate results were total inflow to Canyon Lake from 1995 to 2010 and the monthly storage of Canyon Lake from 1974 to 1989 (synthetic). The first quartile or lower 25th percentile of monthly storage of Canyon Lake for the baseline scenario is 381,000 acre-feet (acre-ft) for the hereinafter 1974–89 (synthetic) period. This lower quartile was chosen for analysis for two critical purposes. First, Canyon Lake is managed with a conservation pool of about 386,200 acre-ft capacity (as recognized by the WAM) and is at or near conservation capacity about 50 percent or more of the time; further, there is intrinsic data censoring that occurs for the monthly storage distribution because Canyon Lake is at or near conservation pool elevation the majority of the time. This intrinsic censoring has the effect of creating a bounded distribution with a left or low-volume tail. Statistical assessment of the brush-management scenarios beginning with the 381,000 acre-ft censoring threshold provides readily interpretable results. Second, the quantification of brush management during periods lacking abundant rainfall, which were defined in this study as months for which Canyon Lake storage was below the 25th percentile for the simulation period, are of substantial interest to water-resource managers and stakeholders in the context of water-supply enhancement.

A statistical assessment of the SWAT-WAM linkage for the low-volume tail of the distribution of monthly storage of Canyon Lake is the focus of analysis and interpretation. Drought periods for the analysis are defined as the months (consecutive or not) during which Canyon Lake is below the 25th percentile of storage (381,000 acre-ft) for the baseline scenario. Such months are referred to as being within the “Drought Quartile.” The Drought Quartile is a conceptual and heuristically determined waypoint for the analysis and is not related to any administrative definition of drought by stakeholders or policy makers.

The five scenarios and the baseline scenario simulated in the upper Guadalupe River SWAT were all passed through the Guadalupe River WAM by the SWAT-WAM linkage described in this report. A comparison of the mean increase per month in reservoir storage for Canyon Lake conditioned for the Drought Quartile was made. For each of the five brush-management and baseline scenarios, the months with storage below 381,000 acre-ft were extracted. The mean monthly storages during the Drought Quartile were computed for each of the five scenarios and the baseline scenario. The mean of the baseline scenario was 376,458 acre-ft and subsequently was subtracted from the mean monthly storage during the Drought Quartile for each of the five scenarios.

The mean monthly offset storages of Canyon Lake during the Drought Quartile were 110 acre-ft (20 percent); 448 acre-ft (40 percent); 754 acre-ft (60 percent); 1,080 acre-ft (80 percent); and 1,090 acre-ft (100 percent). A particular mean was interpreted as follows: the value of 754 acre-ft for the 60-percent brush-management scenario implies that, on average, this scenario indicates an additional 754 acre-ft per month of storage in Canyon Lake relative to the baseline during the Drought Quartile. All of the five scenarios resulted in an increase on average to water supply relative to the baseline scenario during the Drought Quartile through the SWAT-WAM linkage.

Publication Year 2014
Title Linkage of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool and the Texas Water Availability Model to simulate the effects of brush management on monthly storage of Canyon Lake, south-central Texas, 1995-2010
DOI 10.3133/sir20135239
Authors William H. Asquith, Johnathan R. Bumgarner
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2013-5239
Index ID sir20135239
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Texas Water Science Center