Submitted to: Watershed Management Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/16/2010
Publication Date: 11/14/2010
Citation: Sexton, A.M., Shirmohammadi, A., Sadeghi, A.M., Montas, H.J. 2010. A stochastic method to develop nutrient TMDLs using SWAT. In: Proceedings of the Watershed Management Conference, November 14-17, 2010, Baltimore, Maryland. 2010 CDROM. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The U.S. EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program has encountered hindrances in its implementation partly because of its strong dependence on mathematical models to set limitations on the release of impairing substances. The uncertainty associated with predictions of such models is often not formally quantified and typically assigned as an arbitrary safety factor to the margin of safety (MOS) portion of TMDL allocations. The Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was evaluated to determine its applicability to identify the impairment status and tabulate a nutrient TMDL for a waterbody located in the Piedmont physiographic region of Maryland. The methodology for tabulating the nutrient TMDL is an enhancement over current methods used in Maryland. The mean-value first-order reliability method (MFORM) was used to calculate variance in output variables with respect to input parameter variance and the MOS value was derived based on the level confidence in meeting the water quality standard. Uncertainty results indicated that input parameters that are highly sensitive may not necessarily contribute the largest amount of uncertainty to model output. The largest amount of variance in output variables occurred during wet periods. Predicted sediment output had the largest amount of variability around its mean, followed by nitrate, phosphate, and streamflow as indicated by average annual coefficients of variation of 28%, 19%, 17%, and 15%, respectively. The methodology used in this study to quantify the nitrate TMDL and the MOS associated with it, was a useful tool and an improvement over current methods of nutrient TMDL analysis in Maryland.