EVALUATING HSPF IN AN ARID, URBANIZED WATERSHED

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The Hydrologic Simulation Program-FORTRAN (HSPF) is a powerful time variable hydrologic model that has rarely been applied in arid environments. Here, the performance of HSPF in southern California was assessed, testing its ability to predict annual volume, daily average flow, and hourly flow. The model was parameterized with eight land use categories and physical watershed characteristics. It was calibrated using rainfall and measured flow over a five year period in a predominantly undeveloped watershed and it was validated using a subsequent 4-year period. The process was repeated in a separate, predominantly urbanized watershed over the same time span. Annual volume predictions correlated well with measured flow in both the undeveloped and developed watersheds. Daily flow predictions correlated well with measured flow following rain events, but predictions were poor during extended dry weather periods in the developed watershed. This modeling difficulty during dry-weather periods reflects the large influence of, and the poor accounting in the model for, artificially introduced water from human activities, such as landscape overwatering, that can be important sources of water in urbanized arid environments. Hourly flow predictions mistimed peak flows, reflecting spatial and temporal heterogeneity of rainfall within the watershed. Model correlation increased considerably when predictions were averaged over longer time periods, reaching an asymptote after an 11-hour averaging window.

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