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Research Project: Developing Watershed Planning Scenarios and Mapping Structural BMPs in CEAP Watersheds

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Project Number: 8070-66000-001-012-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 22, 2021
End Date: Sep 30, 2022

Objective:
The objective of this research is to: (1) develop watershed planning scenarios that can be used in SWAT modeling to compare with automated planning methods, and (2) use existing geo-referenced historical aerial photography from USDA to map structural best management practices on a roughly decadal time step. Priority locations include the Western Lake Erie Basin, Chesapeake Bay, and the Lower Mississippi. Potential watersheds could include Mahantango Creek, PA, and the Blanchard River, OH.

Approach:
Penn State will work with USDA to develop watershed planning scenarios in the Conewago Creek, Mahantango Creek, and either Spring Creek or Halfmoon Creek watershed. These scenarios will include at least one of the following: EPA 319 grant watershed plan, TMDL WIP watershed plan, local expert-derived watershed plan. Penn State watershed planners will carry out windshield surveys to assess existing and needed conservation practices for these watersheds. Penn State will work with USDA and Penn State SWAT modelers to develop scenarios that can used in SWAT modeling for three watersheds. To assess historical implemental of structural best management practices, Penn State will use the following approach. 1) identify and map locations of structural BMPs observable from multi-decadal aerial imagery (provided by USDA in geo-referenced format). 2) Construct trends in BMPs for the target watersheds through time. 3) Compare locations of existing BMPs with output from ACPF output to see how well existing BMPs fit align with potential placement locations. 4) if possible and where available, watersheds with sufficient stream chemistry and streamflow data will have nutrient and sediment fluxes calculated using the Weighted Regression on Time, Discharge, and Seasonality (WRTDS) statistical model designed to assess longer-term trends in water quality. Priority locations include the Western Lake Erie Basin, Chesapeake Bay, and the Lower Mississippi. Potential watersheds could include Mahantango Creek, PA, and the Blanchard River, OH.