Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version

Fall 9-2012


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Vitaly A. Zlotnik. Lincoln, Nebraska: September, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Jonathan P. Traylor


With proliferation of various numerical models, water budget studies commonly resort to numerical modeling techniques. However, availability and uncertainty in input data limit advantages of this approach. Often, analytical models capture the major traits of the watersheds and can assimilate important data. We developed a model for baseflow-dominated watersheds and apply it to Frenchman Creek in southwestern Nebraska. Frenchman Creek has experienced large streamflow reductions since the 1950s. The cause of these reductions is a combination of irrigation, conservation terrace construction, and other land use changes. However, the influence of each factor has not been well quantified. The objective of this study is to develop a physically-based analytical model of streamflow changes on Frenchman Creek from 1941 to 2009, including the effects of these factors. Analytical stream depletion rate calculations show up to 60 percent of pumped water originates from Frenchman Creek. Over the last 10 years, pumping from the 462 irrigation wells in the basin consumed 70 to 99 percent of the total groundwater discharge to the stream. Stream recharge calculations show that returnflow from irrigation contributes the most water to the stream as baseflow. Stream depletion and canal diversions account for 74 percent of total streamflow reductions. Three coefficients serve as calibration parameters and quantify pumping, terracing, and land use change effects, respectively. The model output generates streamflow at the outlet of Frenchman Creek. Modeled results compare favorably with observed streamflow reductions at the outlet which indicates viability of analytical modeling for less studied watersheds.

Adviser: Vitaly A. Zlotnik

Appendix.xlsx (171 kB)