Biological Systems Engineering
Development and Testing of an In-Stream Phosphorus Cycling Model for the Soil and Water Assessment Tool
Date of this Version
J. Environ. Qual. 43:215–223 (2014)
The Soil and Water Assessment Tool is widely used to predict the fate and transport of phosphorus (P) from the landscape through streams and rivers. The current in-stream P submodel may not be suitable for many stream systems, particularly those dominated by attached algae and those affected by point sources. In this research, we developed an alternative submodel based on the equilibrium P concentration concept coupled with a particulate scour and deposition model. This submodel was integrated with the SWAT model and applied to the Illinois River Watershed in Oklahoma, a basin influenced by waste water treatment plant discharges and extensive poultry litter application. The model was calibrated and validated using measured data. Highly variable in-stream P concentrations and equilibrium P concentration values were predicted spatially and temporally. The model also predicted the gradual storage of P in streambed sediments and the resuspension of this P during periodic high-flow flushing events. Waste water treatment plants were predicted to have a profound effect on P dynamics in the Illinois River due to their constant discharge even under base flow conditions. A better understanding of P dynamics in stream systems using the revised submodel may lead to the development of more effective mitigation strategies to control the impact of P from point and nonpoint sources.
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