Publications—Scientific Investigations Report 2006–5213

A Precipitation-Runoff Model for the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Prepared in cooperation with the Rhode Island Water Resources Board

U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006–5213

 

By Jeffrey R. Barbaro and Phillip J. Zarriello

 


The body of the report is available in PDF Format (13,108 KB)

 

The cover of the report is also available in PDF Format (14,271 KB)


Abstract

A Hydrological Simulation Program–FORTRAN (HSPF) precipitation-runoff model of the Blackstone River Basin was developed and calibrated to study the effects of changing land- and water-use patterns on water resources. The 474.5 mi2 Blackstone River Basin in southeastern Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island is experiencing rapid population and commercial growth throughout much of its area. This growth and the corresponding changes in land-use patterns are increasing stress on water resources and raising concerns about the future availability of water to meet residential and commercial needs. Increased withdrawals and wastewater-return flows also could adversely affect aquatic habitat, water quality, and the recreational value of the streams in the basin.

The Blackstone River Basin was represented by 19 hydrologic response units (HRUs): 17 types of pervious areas (PERLNDs) established from combinations of surficial geology, land-use categories, and the distribution of public water and public sewer systems, and two types of impervious areas (IMPLNDs). Wetlands were combined with open water and simulated as stream reaches that receive runoff from surrounding pervious and impervious areas. This approach was taken to achieve greater flexibility in calibrating evapotranspiration losses from wetlands during the growing season. The basin was segmented into 50 reaches (RCHRES) to represent junctions at tributaries, major lakes and reservoirs, and drainage areas to streamflow-gaging stations. Climatological, streamflow, water-withdrawal, and wastewater-return data were collected during the study to develop the HSPF model. Climatological data collected at Worcester Regional Airport in Worcester, Massachusetts and T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, were used for model calibration. A total of 15 streamflow-gaging stations were used in the calibration. Streamflow was measured at eight continuous-record streamflow-gaging stations that are part of the U.S. Geological Survey cooperative streamflow-gaging network, and at seven partial-record stations installed in 2004 for this study. Because the model-calibration period preceded data collection at the partial-record stations, a continuous streamflow record was estimated at these stations by correlation with flows at nearby continuous-record stations to provide additional streamflow data for model calibration. Water-use information was compiled for 1996–2001 and included municipal and commercial/industrial withdrawals, private residential withdrawals, golf-course withdrawals, municipal wastewater-return flows, and on-site septic effluent return flows. Streamflow depletion was computed for all time-varying ground-water withdrawals prior to simulation. Water-use data were included in the model to represent the net effect of water use on simulated hydrographs. Consequently, the calibrated values of the hydrologic parameters better represent the hydrologic response of the basin to precipitation.

The model was calibrated for 1997–2001 to coincide with the land-use and water-use data compiled for the study. Four long-term stations (Nipmuc River near Harrisville, Rhode Island; Quinsigamond River at North Grafton, Massachusetts; Branch River at Forestdale, Rhode Island; and Blackstone River at Woonsocket, Rhode Island) that monitor flow at 3.3, 5.4, 19, and 88 percent of the total basin area, respectively, provided the primary model-calibration points. Hydrographs, scatter plots, and flow-duration curves of observed and simulated discharges, along with various model-fit statistics, indicated that the model performed well over a range of hydrologic conditions. For example, the total runoff volume for the calibration period simulated at the Nipmuc River near Harrisville, Rhode Island; Quinsigamond River at North Grafton, Massachusetts; Branch River at Forestdale, Rhode Island; and Blackstone River at Woonsocket, Rhode Island streamflow-gaging stations differed from the observed runoff volume by -8.6, 3.9, -4.7, and -5.3 percent, respectively. The errors between the observed and simulated mean daily streamflows for the calibration period were less than 10 percent at 12 of the 15 stations in the basin. The Nash-Sutcliffe coefficient for daily mean flows, a goodness-of-fit measure that represents the proportion of the variance in the observed flow explained by the model, ranged from 0.61 to 0.78 at the primary calibration stations. The simulated mean annual runoff from the basin was 23.1 inches for 1997–2001, of which about 44 percent was from forested areas overlying till, and about 11 percent was from forested areas overlying sand and gravel. The simulated mean annual evapotranspiration loss was 19.5 inches from the basin, of which about 63 percent was from forested areas.

Contents

Abstract

 

Introduction

 

Purpose and Scope

 

Previous Investigations

 

Description of the Basin

 

Climate

 

Topography

 

Land Use and Land Cover

 

Surficial Geology

 

Streamflow-Gaging Stations and Hydrology

 

Wetlands

 

Water Use

 

Precipitation-Runoff Model for the Blackstone River Basin

 

Functional Description of HSPF

 

Input Data Used for the Model

 

Climate

 

Water Withdrawals

 

Golf-Course Withdrawals

 

Streamflow Depletion by Ground-Water Withdrawals

 

Wastewater-Return Flows

 

Streamflow

 

Representation of the Basin

 

Data Layer Processing and Basin Simplification

 

Surficial Geology

 

Land Use and Land Cover

 

Wetlands

 

Public Water and Public Sewer Systems

 

Hydrologic Response Units

 

Impervious Areas (IMPLNDs)

 

Pervious Areas (PERLNDs)

 

Stream Reaches (RCHRES)

 

Hydraulic Characteristics (FTABLEs)

 

Wetlands

 

Water Use

 

Model Calibration

 

Annual and Monthly Mean Discharge

 

Daily Mean Discharge

 

Simulated Hydrologic Response Unit Water Budgets

 

Summary of Anthropogenic Water Use in Basin

 

Sensitivity of Model Results to Changes in Values of Parameters

 

Model Limitations

 

Summary

 

Acknowledgments

 

References Cited

 

Appendix 1. Hydrological Simulation Program–FORTRAN User Control File Input for Pervious and Impervious Area Parameters

 

Figures

1–6. Maps Showing—

1. The Blackstone River Basin, towns, and climatological stations used to simulate streamflow, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

 

2. Land use in the Blackstone River Basin

 

3. Surficial geology in the Blackstone River Basin

 

4. Streamflow-gaging stations in the Blackstone River Basin and surrounding areas

 

5. Wetlands in the Blackstone River Basin

 

6. Distribution of public water and public sewer systems in the Blackstone River Basin

 

7. Schematic diagram of inflows and outflows to a Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN stream reach

 

8–9. Maps Showing—

 

8. Model reaches, subbasin boundaries, and the boundary between climatological zones for the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN (HSPF) model for the Blackstone River Basin.

 

9. Locations of water withdrawals, transfers, and wastewater returns in the Blackstone River Basin

 

10. Graph showing daily withdrawal rate at King's Grant Water Company Well 1, North Attleboro, Massachusetts, 1996-2001, and calculated streamflow depletion

 

11. Diagram showing areas of hydrologic response units, wetlands, and open water as percentages of drainage area

 

12. Map showing water-supply reservoirs in the Blackstone River Basin 13–24.

 

13–24. Graphs Showing—

 

13. Relation between simulated and observed or computed annual mean discharge at streamflow-gaging stations A, Quinsigamond River at North Grafton, Mass. (QU1A, 01110000); B, Blackstone River at Millbury, Mass. (BL2B, 01109730); C, Nipmuc River near Harrisville, R.I. (NI1A, 01111300); D, Branch River at Forestdale, R.I. (BR2A, 01111500); E, Blackstone River at Woonsocket, R.I. (BL9A, 01112500); and F, Blackstone River at Pawtucket, R.I. (BL13, 01113895)

 

14. Relation between simulated and observed or computed monthly mean discharge at streamflow-gaging stations A, Quinsigamond River at North Grafton, Mass. (QU1A, 01110000); B, Blackstone River at Millbury, Mass. (BL2B, 01109730); C, Nipmuc River near Harrisville, R.I. (NI1A, 01111300); D, Branch River at Forestdale, R.I. (BR2A, 01111500); E, Blackstone River at Woonsocket, R.I. (BL9A, 01112500); and F, Blackstone River at Pawtucket, R.I. (BL13, 01113895)

 

15. Daily precipitation at Worcester Regional Airport, Worcester, Mass. (KORH), and T.F. Green Regional Airport, Warwick, R.I. (KPVD), and simulated and observed or computed daily mean discharge at streamflow-gaging stations A, Quinsigamond River at North Grafton, Mass. (QU1A, 01110000); B, Blackstone River at Millbury, Mass. (BL2B, 01109730); C, Nipmuc River near Harrisville, R.I. (NI1A, 01111300); D, Branch River at Forestdale, R.I. (BR2A, 01111500); E, Blackstone River at Woonsocket, RI (BL9A, 01112500); and F, Blackstone River at Pawtucket, R.I. (BL13, 01113895)

 

16. Relations between simulated and observed or computed daily mean discharge at streamflow-gaging stations A, Quinsigamond River at North Grafton, Mass. (QU1A, 01110000); B, Blackstone River at Millbury, Mass. (BL2B, 01109730); C. Nipmuc River near Harrisville, R.I. (NI1A, 01111300); D, Branch River at Forestdale, R.I. (BR2A, 01111500); E, Blackstone River at Woonsocket, R.I. (BL9A, 01112500); and F, Blackstone River at Pawtucket, R.I. (BL13, 01113895)

 

17. Flow-duration curves for simulated and observed or computed daily mean discharges at streamflow-gaging stations A, Quinsigamond River at North Grafton, Mass. (QU1A, 01110000); B, Blackstone River at Millbury, Mass. (BL2B, 01109730); C, Nipmuc River near Harrisville, R.I. (NI1A, 01111300); D, Branch River at Forestdale, R.I. (BR2A, 01111500); E, Blackstone River at Woonsocket, R.I. (BL9A, 01112500); and F, Blackstone River at Pawtucket, R.I. (BL13, 01113895)

 

18. Mean annual water budget by component for 1997–2001 for each hydrologic response unit simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, in inches A, per acre; and B, over the entire basin

 

19. A wet month (March 2001) water budget for each hydrologic response unit simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, in inches A, per acre for moisture supply, total runoff to streams, and total losses to evapotranspiration; B, per acre for individual components of runoff to streams and losses to evapotranspiration and sewers; and C, over the entire basin for individual components of runoff to streams and losses to evapotranspiration and sewers

 

20. A dry month (September 1998) water budget for each hydrologic response unit simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, in inches A, per acre for moisture supply, total runoff to streams and total losses to evapotranspiration; B, per acre for individual components of runoff to streams and losses to evapotranspiration and sewers; and C, over the entire basin for individual components of runoff to streams and losses to evapotranspiration and sewers

 

21. The mean monthly water budget for 1997–2001 for PERLND 3 (forest overlying till) simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin model, in inches A, per acre for moisture supply, total runoff to streams and total losses to evapotranspiration; and B, per acre for individual components of runoff to streams and losses to evapotranspiration.

 

22. The mean monthly water budget for 1997–2001 for PERLND 11 (forest over-lying sand and gravel) simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, in inches A, per acre for moisture supply, total runoff to streams and total losses to evapotranspiration; and B, per acre for individual components of runoff to streams and losses to evapotranspiration.

 

23. The mean monthly water budget for 1997–2001 for PERLND 4 (medium- to low-density residential areas with no import or export of water overlying till) simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, in inches A, per acre for moisture supply, total runoff to streams and total losses to evapotranspiration; and B, per acre for individual components of runoff to streams and losses to evapotranspiration and sewers

 

24. The mean monthly water budget for 1997–2001 for PERLND 1 (commercial-industrial-transportation areas) simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, in inches A, per acre for moisture supply, total runoff to streams, and total losses to evapotranspiration; and B, per acre for individual components of runoff to streams and losses to evapotranspiration and sewers

 

Tables

1. Streamflow-gaging stations in the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

2. Summary of water use by town in the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

3. Organization and description of Dataset Numbers in the Watershed Data Management file for the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

4. Constituent attributes (IDCONs) for the Watershed Data Management file of the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

5. Municipal, commercial/industrial, and golf-course withdrawals in the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

6. Wastewater-return flows in the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

7. Summary of relations between daily mean streamflow at the partial-record streamflow-gaging stations and at the continuous-record stations used to compute continuous streamflow records at the partial-record stations for 1997–2001, Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

8. Residential densities used in the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

9. Definitions and areas of hydrologic response units (HRUs), wetlands, and open water used to represent the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

10. Effective impervious area by developed land-use type for the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

11. Descriptions of stream reaches in the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model of the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

12. Summary of monthly model-fit statistics for flows simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model and observed or computed flows at 15 streamflow-gaging stations in the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, January 1997 through December 2001

13. Summary of daily model-fit statistics for flows simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model and observed or computed flows at 15 streamflow-gaging stations in the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, January 1997 through December 2001

14. Summary of model-fit statistics computed by the HSPEXP program for flows simulated by the Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN model and observed or computed flows at streamflow-gaging stations in the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, January 1997 through December 2001


Suggested citation:

Barbaro, J.R., and Zarriello, P.J., 2007, A precipitation-runoff model for the Blackstone River Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006–5213, 95 p.


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