Evaluating the Impact of the Katy Prairie Hydrology on Flooding Using SWAT Modeling

Cynthuja Partheeban

Texas A&M University

Co-Authors: F. Jaber, J. Jacob

The accurate estimation of stream flow with various land use scenarios in prairie regions is essential for predicting downstream urban flood risk and implement best management practices. Hydrologic models are the essential tools to plan and implement the new water resource management practices. The aim of this study is to model prairie restoration and evaluate the impact on downstream urban flooding using Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The Katy Prairie, a part of the western coastal plain in Texas is being threatened by rapid changes in the economy and population growth. Prairie land is being lost to urbanization. This study provides an analysis of the hydrologic responses of various land use changes scenarios in prairie land using SWAT. The model was calibrated against observed stream flow from 2009 to 2013 using appropriate statistical parameters. The most sensitive parameter was identified as the saturated hydraulic conductivity which was related to soil, land use, and hydrologic condition at the hydrologic response unit (HRU) level. Model validation with the same statistical parameters showed that the result was statistically satisfactory. Various land use scenarios were formulated using the land use maps of 1930 and 2014, representing the 0 percent and 100 percent change from prairie to urban. The 25, 50 and 75% changes were also modeled. The model was run for continuous data from 2009 to 2017 for all scenarios. Results showed that restoring prairie lands to the 1930 levels reduced surface runoff by 26-55%.

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One thought on “Evaluating the Impact of the Katy Prairie Hydrology on Flooding Using SWAT Modeling

  1. Cynthuja, nice project! My folks live in Conroe, so I visit the vicinity often. I’m curious if any of your work can either discern or already took into consideration where the restoration in relation to urban development must be prioritized? Also are there adequate incentives for farmers/producers to seriously consider conversion of cropland for restoration? Thanks!


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