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Methods for estimating selected low-flow frequency statistics and mean annual flow for ungaged locations on streams in North Georgia

January 13, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, developed regional regression equations for estimating selected low-flow frequency and mean annual flow statistics for ungaged streams in north Georgia that are not substantially affected by regulation, diversions, or urbanization. Selected low-flow frequency statistics and basin characteristics for 56 streamgage locations within north Georgia and 75 miles beyond the State’s borders in Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina were combined to form the final dataset used in the regional regression analysis. Because some of the streamgages in the study recorded zero flow, the final regression equations were developed using weighted left-censored regression analysis to analyze the flow data in an unbiased manner, with weights based on the number of years of record. The set of equations includes the annual minimum 1- and 7-day average streamflow with the 10-year recurrence interval (referred to as 1Q10 and 7Q10), monthly 7Q10, and mean annual flow. The final regional regression equations are functions of drainage area, mean annual precipitation, and relief ratio for the selected low-flow frequency statistics and drainage area and mean annual precipitation for mean annual flow. The average standard error of estimate was 13.7 percent for the mean annual flow regression equation and ranged from 26.1 to 91.6 percent for the selected low-flow frequency equations.

The equations, which are based on data from streams with little to no flow alterations, can be used to provide estimates of the natural flows for selected ungaged stream locations in the area of Georgia north of the Fall Line. The regression equations are not to be used to estimate flows for streams that have been altered by the effects of major dams, surface-water withdrawals, groundwater withdrawals (pumping wells), diversions, or wastewater discharges. The regression equations should be used only for ungaged sites with drainage areas between 1.67 and 576 square miles, mean annual precipitation between 47.6 and 81.6 inches, and relief ratios between 0.146 and 0.607; these are the ranges of the explanatory variables used to develop the equations. An attempt was made to develop regional regression equations for the area of Georgia south of the Fall Line by using the same approach used during this study for north Georgia; however, the equations resulted with high average standard errors of estimates and poorly predicted flows below 0.5 cubic foot per second, which may be attributed to the karst topography common in that area.

The final regression equations developed from this study are planned to be incorporated into the U.S. Geological Survey StreamStats program. StreamStats is a Web-based geographic information system that provides users with access to an assortment of analytical tools useful for water-resources planning and management, and for engineering design applications, such as the design of bridges. The StreamStats program provides streamflow statistics and basin characteristics for U.S. Geological Survey streamgage locations and ungaged sites of interest. StreamStats also can compute basin characteristics and provide estimates of streamflow statistics for ungaged sites when users select the location of a site along any stream in Georgia.