Regionalization of low-flow characteristics of Tennessee streams

U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4191

by R.H. Bingham

This report is available as a pdf below


Procedures for estimating 3-day Z-year, 3-day lo-year, 3-day 20-year, and 7-day lo-year low flows at ungaged stream sites in Tennessee are based on surface geology and drainage area size. One set of equations applies to west Tennessee streams, and another set applies to central and east Tennessee streams. The equations do not apply to streams where flow is significantly altered by activities of man. Standard errors of estimate of equations for west Tennessee are 24 to 32 percent and for central and east Tennessee 31 to 35 percent.

Streamflow-recession indexes, in days per log cycle, are used to account for effects of geology of the drainage basin on low flow of streams. The indexes in Tennessee range from 32 days per log cycle for clay and shale to 350 days per log cycle for gravel and sand, indicating different aquifer characteristics of the geologic units that sustain streamflows during periods of no surface runoff. Streamflow-recession rate depends primarily on transmissivity and storage characteristics of the aquifers, and the average distance from stream channels to basin divides. Geology and drainage basin size are the most significant variables affecting low flow in Tennessee streams according to regression analyses.

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