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Open-File Report 2010-1014

Simulation of Runoff and Reservoir Inflow for Use in a Flood-Analysis Model for the Delaware River, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, 2004-2006

By Daniel J. Goode, Edward H. Koerkle, Scott A. Hoffman, R. Steve Regan, Lauren E. Hay, and Steven L. Markstrom


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A model was developed to simulate inflow to reservoirs and watershed runoff to streams during three high-flow events between September 2004 and June 2006 for the main-stem subbasin of the Delaware River draining to Trenton, N.J. The model software is a modified version of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS), a modular, physically based, distributed-parameter modeling system developed to evaluate the impacts of various combinations of precipitation, climate, and land use on surface-water runoff and general basin hydrology. The PRMS model simulates time periods associated with main-stem flooding that occurred in September 2004, April 2005, and June 2006 and uses both daily and hourly time steps. Output from the PRMS model was formatted for use as inflows to a separately documented reservoir and riverrouting model, the HEC-ResSim model, developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologic Engineering Center to evaluate flooding. The models were integrated through a graphical user interface.

The study area is the 6,780 square-mile watershed of the Delaware River in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York that drains to Trenton, N.J. A geospatial database was created for use with a geographic information system to assist model discretization, determine land-surface characterization, and estimate model parameters. The USGS National Elevation Dataset at 100-meter resolution, a Digital Elevation Model (DEM), was used for model discretization into streams and hydrologic response units. In addition, geospatial processing was used to estimate initial model parameters from the DEM and other data layers, including land use. The model discretization represents the study area using 869 hydrologic response units and 452 stream segments. The model climate data for point stations were obtained from multiple sources. These sources included daily data for 22 National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative Climate Station network stations, hourly data for 15 stations from the National Climatic Data Center, hourly data for 1 station from the NWS Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center records, and daily and hourly data for 7 stations operated by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The NWS Multisensor Precipitation Estimate data set for 2001-2007 was used for computing daily precipitation for the model and for computing hourly precipitation for storm simulation periods.

Calibration of the PRMS model included regression and optimization algorithms, as well as manual adjustments of model parameters. The general goal of the calibration procedure was to minimize the difference between discharge measured at USGS streamgages and the corresponding discharge simulated by the model. Daily streamflow data from 35 USGS streamgages were used in model calibration. The streamflow data represent areas draining from 20.2 to 6,780 square miles.

The PRMS model simulates reservoir inflow and watershed runoff for use as input into HECResSim for the purpose of evaluating and comparing the effects of different watershed conditions on main-stem flooding in the Delaware River watershed draining to Trenton, N.J. The PRMS model is useful as a planning tool to simulate the effects of land-use changes and different antecedent conditions on local runoff and reservoir inflow and, as input to the HEC-ResSim model, on flood flows in the main stem of the Delaware River.

First posted February 10, 2010

For additional information contact:
Director, Pennsylvania Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
215 Limekiln Road
New Cumberland, Pennsylvania 17070

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Suggested citation:

Goode, D.J., Koerkle, E.H., Hoffman, S.A., Regan, R.S., Hay, L.E., and Markstrom, S.L., 2010, Simulation of runoff and reservoir inflow for use in a flood-analysis model for the Delaware River, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, 2004-2006: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1014, 68 p.




Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System

Model Development

Model Application



References Cited

Appendix - Documentation of PRMS Modules Modified for this Study

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