Using an Integrated Surface Water – Groundwater Flow Model for Evaluating the Hydrologic Impacts of Historic and Potential Future Dry Periods on Simulated Water Budgets in the Santa Rosa Plain Watershed, Northern California, USA

Monday, 15 December 2014
Joseph A Hevesi, U.S. Geological Survey, Sacramento, CA, United States, Linda R Woolfenden, USGS--Placer Hall, Sacramento, CA, United States and Tracy Nishikawa, USGS California Water Science Center San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States
Communities in the Santa Rosa Plain watershed (SRPW), Sonoma County, CA, USA are experiencing increasing demand for limited water resources. Streamflow in the SRPW is runoff dominated; however, groundwater also is an important resource in the basin. The watershed has an area of 262 mi2 that includes natural, agricultural, and urban land uses. To evaluate the hydrologic system, an integrated hydrologic model was developed using the U.S. Geological Survey coupled groundwater and surface-water flow model, GSFLOW. The model uses a daily time step and a grid-based discretization of the SRPW consisting of 16,741 10-acre cells for 8 model layers to simulate all water budget components of the surface and subsurface hydrologic system. Simulation results indicate significant impacts on streamflow and recharge in response to the below average precipitation during the dry periods. The recharge and streamflow distributions simulated for historic dry periods were compared to future dry periods projected from 4 GCM realizations (two different GCMs and two different CO2 forcing scenarios) for the 21st century, with the dry periods defined as 3 consecutive years of below average precipitation. For many of the projected dry periods, the decreases in recharge and streamflow were greater than for the historic dry periods due to a combination of lower precipitation and increases in simulated evapotranspiration for the warmer 21st century projected by the GCM realizations. The greatest impact on streamflow for both historic and projected future dry periods is the diminished baseflow from late spring to early fall, with an increase in the percentage of intermittent and dry stream reaches. The results indicate that the coupled model is a useful tool for water managers to better understand the potential effects of future dry periods on spatially and temporally distributed streamflow and recharge, as well as other components of the water budget.