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Sediment is one of the most difficult water quality constituents to accurately represent in current watershed and stream models. Important aspects of sediment behavior within a watershed system include loading and erosion sources, delivery of these eroded sediment sources to streams, drains and other pathways, and subsequent instream transport, scour and deposition processes.

Sediment calibration for watershed models involves numerous steps in estimating model parameters and determining appropriate adjustments needed to insure a reasonable simulation of the sediment sources, delivery, and transport behavior within the channel system. Rarely is there sufficient observed local data at sufficient spatial detail to accurately calibrate all parameters for all land uses and each stream and waterbody reach. Consequently, model users focus the calibration on sites with observed data and review simulations in all parts of the watershed to ensure that the model results are consistent with field observations, historical reports, and expected behavior from past experience.

This paper explores a ‘weight of evidence’ approach for sediment calibration as part of overall watershed model calibration, using both graphical and statistical measures, based on recent experience with the U. S. EPA Hydrological Simulation Program – FORTRAN (HSPF). Model parameterization and calibration procedures are described, using sample model results, to demonstrate recommended graphical and statistical procedures to assess model performance for sediment loadings, concentrations, and budgets within a watershed modeling framework. Although the results are specific to the EPA HSPF model, the approach and procedures for sediment calibration are applicable to other watershed models that represent sediment processes and behavior at the watershed scale.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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