Reports

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TR-207

Brush Management/WaterYield Feasibility Study for Four Watersheds In Texas

Steven T. Bednarz, Tim Dybala, Carl Amonett, Ranjan S. Muttiah, Wes Rosenthal, Raghavan Srinivasan, Jeff G. Arnold

The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was used to simulate the effects of brush removal on water yield in four watersheds in Texas for 1960 through 1999. Methods used in this study were similar to methods used in a previous study (TAES, 2000) in which 8 watersheds were analyzed. Landsat 7 satellite imagery was used to classify land use, and the 1:24,000 scale digital elevation model (DEM) was used to delineate watershed boundaries and subbasins. SWAT was calibrated to measured stream gauge flow and reservoir storage.

Brush removal was simulated by converting all heavy and moderate categories of brush (except oak) to open range (native grass). Simulated changes in water yield due to brush treatment varied by subbasin, with all subbasins showing increased water yield as a result of removing brush. Average annual water yield increases ranged from about 111,000 gallons per treated acre in the Fort Phantom Hill watershed to about 178,000 gallons per treated acre in the Palo Pinto watershed. Water yield increases per treated acre were similar to a previous study (COE, 2002), but higher than TAES (2000). As in previous studies, there was a strong, positive correlation between water yield increase and precipitation.

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