Spatial-Temporal Dynamics of Runoff Generation Areas in a Small Agricultural Watershed in Southern Ontario

DOI: 10.4236/jwarp.2015.71002   PDF   HTML   XML   3,816 Downloads   4,563 Views   Citations


The identification of runoff generating areas (RGAs) within a watershed is a difficult task because of their temporal and spatial behavior. A watershed was selected to investigate the RGAs to determine the factors affecting spatio-temporally in southern Ontario. The watershed was divided into 8 fields having a Wireless System Network (WSN) and a V-notch weir for flow and soil moisture measurements. The results show that surface runoff is generated by the infiltration excess mechanism in summer and fall, and the saturation excess mechanism in spring. The statistical analysis suggested that the amount of rainfall and rainfall intensity for summer (R2 = 0.63, 0.82) and fall (R2 = 0.74, 0.80), respectively, affected the RGAs. The analysis showed that 15% area generated 85% of surface runoff in summer, 100% of runoff in fall, and 40% of runoff in spring. The methodology developed has potential for identifying RGAs for protecting Ontario’s water resources.

Share and Cite:

Chapi, K. , Rudra, R. , Ahmed, S. , Khan, A. , Gharabaghi, B. , Dickinson, W. and Goel, P. (2015) Spatial-Temporal Dynamics of Runoff Generation Areas in a Small Agricultural Watershed in Southern Ontario. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 7, 14-40. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2015.71002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Walter, M.T., Walter, M.F., Brooks, E.S., Steenhuis, T.S., Boll, J. and Weiler, K.R. (2000) Hydrologically Sensitive Areas: Variable Source Area Hydrology Implications for Water Quality Risk Assessment. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 55, 277-284.
[2] Hewlett, J.D. (1961) Watershed Management. USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Ashville.
[3] Hewlett, J.D. and Hibbert, A.R. (1967) Factors Affecting the Response of Small Watersheds to Precipitation in Humid Areas. In: Sopper, W.E. and Lull, H.W., Eds., Proceedings of the International Symposium on Forest Hydrology, Pergamon, Pennsylvania State University, New York, 275-290.
[4] Sivapalan, M., Beven, M. and Wood, E.F. (1987) On Hydrologic Similarity: 2. A Scaled Model of Storm Runoff Production. Water Resources Research, 23, 2266-2278.
[5] Betson, R.P. (1964) What Is Watershed Runoff? Journal of Geophysical Research, 69, 1541-1552.
[6] Dickinson, W.T. and Whiteley, H. (1970) Watershed Areas Contributing to Runoff. International Association of Scientific Hydrology Bulletin, 96, 12-26.
[7] Moore, T., Dunne, T. and Taylor, C.H. (1976) Mapping Runoff-Producing Zones in Humid Regions. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 31, 160-164.
[8] O’Loughlin, E.M. (1986) Prediction of Surface Saturation Zones in Natural Catchment by Topographic Analysis. Water Resources Research, 22, 794-804.
[9] Latron, J. and Gallart, F. (2002) Seasonal Dynamics of Runoff Variable Contributing Areas in a Mediterranean Mountain Catchment (Vallcebre, Catalan, Pyrenees). Project 5. ERB and Northern European FRIEND, Demanoska Dolina.
[10] Leh, M.D., Chaubey, I., Murdoch, J., Brahana, J.V. and Haggard, B.E. (2008) Delineating Runoff Processes and Critical Runoff Source Areas in a Pasture Hillslope of the Ozark Highlands. Hydrological Processes, 22, 4190-4204.
[11] Dunne, T. and Black, R.D. (1970) An Experimental Investigation of Runoff Production in Permeable Soils. Water Resources Research, 6, 478-490.
[12] Hewlett, J.D. (1982) Principles of Forest Hydrology. University of Georgia Press, Athens.
[13] Gburek, W.J. (1990) Initial Contributing Area of a Small Watershed. Journal of Hydrology, 118, 387-403.
[14] Horton, R.E. (1933) The Role of Infiltration in the Hydrologic Cycle. Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, 14, 446-460.
[15] Novotny, V. and Chesters, G. (1981) Handbook of Nonpoint Pollution: Sources and Management. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York.
[16] Loehr, R.C. (1972) Agricultural Runoff—Characterization and Control. Journal of Sanitary Engineering Division, 98, 909-923.
[17] Olness, S., Smith, J., Rhoades, E.D. and Menzel, R.G. (1975) Nutrient and Sediment Discharge from Agricultural Watersheds in Oklahoma. Journal of Environmental Quality, 4, 331-336.
[18] Wall, G.J., Dickinson, W.T. and Van Vliet, L.J.P. (1982) Agriculture and Water Quality in the Canadian Great Lakes Basin: II. Fluvial Sediments. Journal of Environmental Quality, 11, 482-486.
[19] Dickinson, W.T. and Rudra, R.P. (1986) Identification of Soil Erosion and Fluvial Sediment Problems. Hydrological Processes, 1, 111-124.
[20] Park, S.W., Mostaghimi, S., Cookeand, R.A. and McClellan, P.W. (1994) BMP Impacts on Watershed Runoff, Sediment, and Nutrient Yields. Water Resources Bulletin, 30, 1011-1023.
[21] Miller, M.H., Robinson, J.B., Coote, D.R., Spires, A.C. and Wraper, D.W. (1982) Agriculture and Water Quality in the Canadian Great Lakes Basin: III. Phosphorus. Journal of Environmental Quality, 11, 487-493.
[22] Tomer, M.D., Jamesand, D.E. and Isenhart, T.M. (2003) Optimizing the Placement of Riparian Practices in a Watershed Using Terrain Analysis. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 58, 198-206.
[23] PLUARG (1978) Environmental Management Strategy for the Great Lakes Basin. Final Report of the Pollution from Land Use Activities Reference Group to the International Joint Commission, Windsor.
[24] Duda, A.M. and Johnson, R.J. (1985) Cost-Effective Targeting of Agricultural Nonpoint-Source Pollution Controls. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 40, 108-111.
[25] Qiu, Z. (2003) A VSA-Based Strategy for Placing Conservation Buffers in Agricultural Watersheds. Environmental Management, 32, 299-311.
[26] Dickinson, W.T., Rudra, R.P. and Wall, G.J. (1990) Targeting Remedial Measures to Nonpoint Source Pollution. Water Resources Bulletin, 26, 499-507.
[27] Megahan, W.F. and King, P.N. (1985) Identification of Critical Areas on Forest Lands for Control of Nonpoint Sources of Pollution. Environmental Management, 9, 7-18.
[28] James, A.L. and Roulet, N.T. (2007) Investigating Hydrologic Connectivity and Its Association with Threshold Change in Runoff Response in a Temperate Forested Watershed. Hydrological Processes, 9, 3391-3408.
[29] Detty, J.M. and McGuire, K.J. (2010) Topographic Controls on Shallow Groundwater Dynamics: Implications of Hydrologic Connectivity between Hillslopes and Riparian Zones in a Till Mantled Catchment. Hydrological Processes, 24, 2222-2236.
[30] Sen, S., Srivastava, P., Dane, J.H., Yoo, K.H. and Shaw, J.N. (2010) Spatial-Temporal Variability and Hydrologic Connectivity of Runoff Generation Areas in a North Alabama Pasture—Implications for Phosphorus Transport. Hydrological Processes, 24, 342-356.
[31] Marjerison, R.D., Dahlke, H., Easton, Z.M., Seifert, S. and Walter, M.T. (2011) A Phosphorus Index Transport Factor Based on Variable Source Area Hydrology for New York State. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 66, 149-157.
[32] Buchanan, B.P., Fleming, M., Schneider, R.L., Richards, B.K., Archibald, J., Qiu, Z. and Walter, M.T. (2013) Evaluating Topographic Wetness Indices across Central New York Agricultural Landscapes. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 10, 14041-14093.
[33] Thompson, J., Cassidy, R., Doody, D.G. and Flynn, R. (2013) Predicting Critical Source Areas of Sediment in Headwater Catchments. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 179, 41-52.
[34] Verhoest, N.E.C., Troch, P.A., Paniconi, C. and DeTroch, F.P. (1998) Mapping Basin Scale Variable Source Areas from Multitemporal Remotely Sensed Observations of Soil Moisture Behavior. Water Resources Research, 34, 3235-3244.
[35] Srinivasan, M.S., Gburek, W.J. and Hamlett, J.M. (2002) Dynamics of Stormflow Generation—A Hillslope-Scale Field Study in East-Central Pennsylvania, USA. Hydrological Processes, 16, 649-665.
[36] Arteaga, F.E. and Rantz, S.E. (1973) Application of the Source-Area Concept of Storm Runoff to a Small Arizona Watershed. Journal of Research, U.S. Geological Survey, 1, 493-498.
[37] Mackintosh, E.E. and Van der Hulst, J. (1978) Soil Drainage Classes and Soil Water Table Relations in Medium and Coarse Textured Soils in Southern Ontario. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 58, 287-301.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.