Demonstration and Validation of BASINS Watershed Modeling System Enhanced for Military Installations

Anthony Donigian | AQUA TERRA Consultants



In accordance with the guidelines and goals established in the Unified Federal Policy for a Watershed Approach to Federal Land and Resource Management, the Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction 4715.03 calls for a watershed-based approach to manage operations, activities, and lands to avoid or minimize impacts to wetlands, groundwater, and surface waters on or adjacent to installations. Watershed modeling systems are a critical component of efforts to support this mandate and maintain military readiness and the sustainability of DoD testing and training lands. This project is designed to both validate and demonstrate specific components of the Better Assessment Science Integrating point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) Modeling System, originally developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for total maximum daily load (TMDL) assessments and recently enhanced through a SERDP-funded project ( RC-1547) for application on military installations.

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Technology Description

The BASINS Modeling System is a GIS-based system and features a well-developed interface for different dynamic watershed models, as well as numerous pre- and post-processing tools that are shared by the models. Two types of enhancements, which used the Hydrological Simulation Program – FORTRAN (HSPF) as the primary modeling code, were developed through SERDP project RC-1547 for the BASINS Modeling System for military-specific applications: (1) data and methodologies that address key military land stressors or managed disturbances (i.e., urban encroachment, prescribed burning, timber harvesting, military training, and unpaved roads), and (2) software refinements related to model linkages and algorithms. Preliminary model applications were performed at Fort Benning, Georgia, to provide proof-of-principle demonstration of the modeling system and the enhancements to support watershed management issues on the installation.

The next steps to advance the technology are to: (1) demonstrate the relationship between model performance and alternative levels of data availability and associated cost/benefit implications; (2) validate the Fort Benning modeling results for unpaved roads with observed flow and sediment data; (3) demonstrate the modeling system in a cost-efficient manner on another installation; (4) demonstrate the full utility of the model as a tool for watershed management through advanced modeling applications; (5) communicate model outputs and uncertainties in an easily interpretable manner; (6) resolve security issues related to accessing the modeling system within an installation; and (7) produce user guidance related to applying both the methodologies and models. Two installations will serve as host sites (with the option for a possible third site later in the project): Fort Benning (FB) and Fort AP Hill (FAPH). These installations were selected to take advantage of the leveraging opportunities available from existing models and monitoring data. On Fort Benning, the first effort involves quantifying the correlation between categories of available data and model performance. Newly acquired monitoring data for unpaved roads on FB will be used to perform a validation or testing beyond the use of literature values, and advanced modeling applications will include road maintenance and design assessment, small-scale stormwater management assessment, and a climate non-stationarity assessment to demonstrate the technology's full utility to address watershed management issues. Cost efficiency comparison of several modeling approaches and a TMDL model application will be demonstrated on FAPH. Uncertainty analyses will be performed on both the FB and FAPH models.

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A successful demonstration and validation of the military enhanced BASINS Modeling System (BASINS.MIL) will support transfer of the technology to other installations across DoD and demonstrate the ability to do so in a cost-efficient manner. The focus is to conduct "systems-level" and scenario analyses that can address assessment, monitoring, and adaptive management (compliance, mission sustainability, and stewardship) needs and actions of interest to DoD resource managers across natural, semi-natural, heavily disturbed, and urbanized landscapes, both within and across an installation's administrative boundary. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2017)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Mr. Anthony Donigian

AQUA TERRA Consultants

Phone: 650-962-1864

Fax: 650-962-0706

Program Manager

Resource Conservation and Resiliency