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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #173363


item Arnold, Jeffrey

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2004
Publication Date: 7/15/2004
Citation: Diluzio, M., Arnold, J.G., Srinivasan, R. 2004. Integration of SSURGO maps and soil parameters within a geographic information system and nonpoint source pollution model. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 59(4):123-133.

Interpretive Summary: Decision-makers use watershed models to determine the impact of land management on water quality and supply within a watershed or river basin. Watershed models are critical tools used in national conservation assessments by NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) and watershed assessments by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Watershed models require significant input data including weather, topography, soils, land use and management. Assembling this data can be expensive and time consuming. In this study, the GIS (geographic information system) interface developed for the SWAT watershed model was enhanced to incorporate the most detailed NRCS soils maps available. This capability provides improved model simulations for watershed assessments.

Technical Abstract: Computer based frameworks, including geographical information systems (GIS), associated digital data sets and integrated hydrological models, have become essential tools for the practical deployment of watershed assessment projects and ultimately for providing support for water quality protection and conservation. Within these frameworks digital soil information and data sets play a key role in defining the spatial distribution of important hydraulic variables and consequently of fundamental hydrologic functions connected with NPSs (Nonpoint Sources) and their modeling. This paper illustrates background and results from the development of a GIS based tool required for the use of Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) data sets (an undergoing development and delivery effort of digital soil maps by the Natural Resources Conservation Service) and primarily designed in specific support of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model and its applications in the United States. The tool is developed as an addition or extension to the model companion, the ArcView GIS interface in its latest version (AVSWATX) which is designed to define watershed hydrologic features; store, organize, and manipulate the related spatial and tabular data; and analyze management scenarios. Within this framework the tool expedites the otherwise complex inclusion operations of the SSURGO data, such as (1) downloading, via the internet, up-to-date SSURGO data sets (version I or II); (2) processing and managing variously formatted data sets in order to create the needed digital soil maps; (3) generating and/or storing the required soil physical and hydraulic model input parameters derived from pedo-transfer functions; and (4) seamlessly including them in any watershed modeling framework. Besides the operational advantages, the tool addresses the trend of employing soil maps with increasing detail in order to improve the landscape representation and reduce the modeling drawbacks involved with the aggregation of the spatial input. Soil map features with unprecedented detail along with the elaborated attributes have a potential for enhancing modeling assessments in support of water quality programs (i.e. Total Maximum Daily Load) at the watershed as well as stream reach scale, as indicated in basic yet important highlights of the paper.