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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: History of the USDA-ARS Experimental Watersheds on the Washita River, Oklahoma.

Authors
item Garbrecht, Jurgen
item Starks, Patrick
item Steiner, Jean

Submitted to: American Society of Civil Engineers
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 10, 2007
Publication Date: May 10, 2007
Citation: Garbrecht, J.D., Starks, P.J., Steiner, J.L. 2007. History of the USDA-ARS experimental watersheds on the Washita River, Oklahoma. In: Rogers, J.R., editor. Milestones in Engineering History. Reston, VA:American Society of Civil Engineers. p. 94-106.

Interpretive Summary: A national experimental watershed network, operated by the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, was established in 1959 to conduct research on the effects of flood retarding structures, upland soil and water conservation practices, and land management on downstream water quantity and quality. Three large watersheds of this network are on the Washita River south-west of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They are the Southern Great Plains Research Watershed, the Little Washita River Experimental Watershed, and the Fort Cobb Reservoir Experimental Watershed. This book chapter reviews the establishment and evolution of the three watersheds, and associated instrumentation and research thrusts. Four major research periods and themes are recognized. The 1961-1978 period addressed impacts of flood retarding structures on watershed hydrology and sediment yield. The 1978-1985 period focused on control of non-point source pollution on water quality using best management practices in large watersheds. The 1992-2004 period targeted potential hydrologic impacts of global climate change and development of remote sensing technologies for large-scale soil moisture measurements. And since 2004, assessment of environmental and societal benefits associated with federally funded conservation practices (CEAP) are emphasized. Expectations are that the Little Washita River Watershed, together with the more recent Fort Cobb Watershed, will continue to provide valuable land use and management information for protecting and utilizing soil and water resources in the Southern Great Plains.

Technical Abstract: A national experimental watershed network, operated by the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, was established in 1959 to conduct research on the effects of flood retarding structures, upland soil and water conservation practices, and land management on downstream water quantity and quality. Three large watersheds of this network are on the Washita River south-west of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They are the Southern Great Plains Research Watershed, the Little Washita River Experimental Watershed, and the Fort Cobb Reservoir Experimental Watershed. This book chapter reviews the establishment and evolution of the three watersheds, and associated instrumentation and research thrusts. Four major research periods and themes are recognized. The 1961-1978 period addressed impacts of flood retarding structures on watershed hydrology and sediment yield. The 1978-1985 period focused on control of non-point source pollution on water quality using best management practices in large watersheds. The 1992-2004 period targeted potential hydrologic impacts of global climate change and development of remote sensing technologies for large-scale soil moisture measurements. And since 2004, assessment of environmental and societal benefits associated with federally funded conservation practices (CEAP) are emphasized. Expectations are that the Little Washita River Watershed, together with the more recent Fort Cobb Watershed, will continue to provide valuable land use and management information for protecting and utilizing soil and water resources in the Southern Great Plains.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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