An appreciation of the quantity of streamflow derived from the main hydrological pathways involved in transporting diffuse contaminants is critical when addressing a wide range of water resource management issues. In order to assess hydrological pathway contributions to streams, it is necessary to provide feasible upper and lower bounds for flows in each pathway. An important first step in this process is to provide reliable estimates of the slower responding groundwater pathways and subsequently the quicker overland and interflow pathways. This paper investigates the effectiveness of a multi-faceted approach applying different hydrograph separation techniques, supplemented by lumped hydrological modelling, for calculating the Baseflow Index (BFI), for the development of an integrated approach to hydrograph separation. A semi-distributed, lumped and deterministic rainfall runoff model known as NAM has been applied to ten catchments (ranging from 5 to 699 km2). While this modelling approach is useful as a validation method, NAM itself is also an important tool for investigation. These separation techniques provide a large variation in BFI, a difference of 0.741 predicted for BFI in a catchment with the less reliable fixed and sliding interval methods and local minima turning point methods included. This variation is reduced to 0.167 with these methods omitted. The Boughton and Eckhardt algorithms, while quite subjective in their use, provide quick and easily implemented approaches for obtaining physically realistic hydrograph separations. It is observed that while the different separation techniques give varying BFI values for each of the catchments, a recharge coefficient approach developed in Ireland, when applied in conjunction with the Master recession Curve Tabulation method, predict estimates in agreement with those obtained using the NAM model, and these estimates are also consistent with the study catchments’ geology. These two separation methods, in conjunction with the NAM model, were selected to form an integrated approach to assessing BFI in catchments.
Bibliographical noteThe work described in this paper is based on a project which was carried out for the Environmental Protection Agency under the STRIVE Programme 2007–2013. The project title was “2007-W-CD-1-S1: Pathways Project”.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology