CTRE is an Iowa State University center, administered by the Institute for Transportation.

Address: 2711 S. Loop Drive, Suite 4700, Ames, IA 50010-8664

Phone: 515-294-8103
FAX: 515-294-0467

Website: www.ctre.iastate.edu/

Iowa State University--Becoming the Best

Modeling impact of management practices and climate changes on hydrology and water quality (EPIC and SWAT)

Diagram of buffer keeping chemicals out of rivers

Diagram of a riparian buffer keeping chemical runoff out of rivers.


Principal investigator:

Student researcher:

Project status


Start date: 08/15/96
End date: 12/31/06



About the research

Abstract: Excessive nutrient, sediment and pesticides outflows from agricultural watersheds such as that of Iowa are polluting the streams and natural waterways often resulting in depleted dissolved oxygen. The water quality in river and streams is thus deteriorating causing hypoxic conditions in the river and the ocean gulf such as the Gulf of Mexico making it unfit for a variety of aquatic animals. Riparian buffer strip is an area along the rivers/streams which if planted carefully with appropriate vegetations in engineered way can help reduce the nitrate and pesticides outflows from the agricultural land. General recommendations on riparian buffer strip are available in literature and a couple of numerical models are available to simulate the processes on field scale. None of them, however, is capable of simulating the processes on a watershed scale along with the buffer strip. The main objective of my study is to apply SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) model to simulate the riparian buffer strip and study the water quality improvement on a watershed scale. Coupling this scheme with future climate simulated by global and regional climate models will allow evaluating water quality scenarios of streams and functioning of riparian buffer strips under different future scenario climates.

Walnut Creek is a highly monitored small watershed near Ames, Iowa. Data from this watershed is currently being used in SWAT simulation and do various experiments with future weather data and riparian buffer strips