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Methods for estimating low-flow statistics for Massachusetts streams

January 1, 2000

Methods and computer software are described in this report for determining flow duration, low-flow frequency statistics, and August median flows. These low-flow statistics can be estimated for unregulated streams in Massachusetts using different methods depending on whether the location of interest is at a streamgaging station, a low-flow partial-record station, or an ungaged site where no data are available. Low-flow statistics for streamgaging stations can be estimated using standard U.S. Geological Survey methods described in the report. The MOVE.1 mathematical method and a graphical correlation method can be used to estimate low-flow statistics for low-flow partial-record stations. The MOVE.1 method is recommended when the relation between measured flows at a partial-record station and daily mean flows at a nearby, hydrologically similar streamgaging station is linear, and the graphical method is recommended when the relation is curved. Equations are presented for computing the variance and equivalent years of record for estimates of low-flow statistics for low-flow partial-record stations when either a single or multiple index stations are used to determine the estimates. The drainage-area ratio method or regression equations can be used to estimate low-flow statistics for ungaged sites where no data are available. The drainage-area ratio method is generally as accurate as or more accurate than regression estimates when the drainage-area ratio for an ungaged site is between 0.3 and 1.5 times the drainage area of the index data-collection site. Regression equations were developed to estimate the natural, long-term 99-, 98-, 95-, 90-, 85-, 80-, 75-, 70-, 60-, and 50-percent duration flows; the 7-day, 2-year and the 7-day, 10-year low flows; and the August median flow for ungaged sites in Massachusetts. Streamflow statistics and basin characteristics for 87 to 133 streamgaging stations and low-flow partial-record stations were used to develop the equations. The streamgaging stations had from 2 to 81 years of record, with a mean record length of 37 years. The low-flow partial-record stations had from 8 to 36 streamflow measurements, with a median of 14 measurements. All basin characteristics were determined from digital map data. The basin characteristics that were statistically significant in most of the final regression equations were drainage area, the area of stratified-drift deposits per unit of stream length plus 0.1, mean basin slope, and an indicator variable that was 0 in the eastern region and 1 in the western region of Massachusetts. The equations were developed by use of weighted-least-squares regression analyses, with weights assigned proportional to the years of record and inversely proportional to the variances of the streamflow statistics for the stations. Standard errors of prediction ranged from 70.7 to 17.5 percent for the equations to predict the 7-day, 10-year low flow and 50-percent duration flow, respectively. The equations are not applicable for use in the Southeast Coastal region of the State, or where basin characteristics for the selected ungaged site are outside the ranges of those for the stations used in the regression analyses. A World Wide Web application was developed that provides streamflow statistics for data collection stations from a data base and for ungaged sites by measuring the necessary basin characteristics for the site and solving the regression equations. Output provided by the Web application for ungaged sites includes a map of the drainage-basin boundary determined for the site, the measured basin characteristics, the estimated streamflow statistics, and 90-percent prediction intervals for the estimates. An equation is provided for combining regression and correlation estimates to obtain improved estimates of the streamflow statistics for low-flow partial-record stations. An equation is also provided for combining regression and drainage-area ratio estimates to obtain improved e

Publication Year 2000
Title Methods for estimating low-flow statistics for Massachusetts streams
DOI 10.3133/wri004135
Authors Kernell G. Ries, Paul J. Friesz
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 2000-4135
Index ID wri004135
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse