The Watershed Flow and Allocation Model: An NHDPlus-Based Watershed Modeling Approach for Multiple Scales and Conditions


The Watershed Flow and Allocation model (WaterFALL ®) provides segment‐specific, daily streamflow at both gaged and ungaged locations to generate the hydrologic foundation for a variety of water resources management applications. The model is designed to apply across the spatially explicit and enhanced National Hydrography Dataset (NHDP lus) stream and catchment network. To facilitate modeling at the NHDP lus catchment scale, we use an intermediate‐level rainfall‐runoff model rather than a complex process‐based model. The hydrologic model within WaterFALL simulates rainfall‐runoff processes for each catchment within a watershed and routes streamflow between catchments, while accounting for withdrawals, discharges, and onstream reservoirs within the network. The model is therefore distributed among each NHDP lus catchment within the larger selected watershed. Input parameters including climate, land use, soils, and water withdrawals and discharges are georeferenced to each catchment. The WaterFALL system includes a centralized database and server‐based environment for storing all model code, input parameters, and results in a single instance for all simulations allowing for rapid comparison between multiple scenarios. We demonstrate and validate WaterFALL within North Carolina at a variety of scales using observed streamflows to inform quantitative and qualitative measures, including hydrologic flow metrics relevant to the study of ecological flow management decisions.

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