Publication Date


Series Number

09-WP 492


This paper describes the application of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to the Maquoketa River watershed, located in northeast Iowa. The inputs to the model were obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency's geographic information/database system called Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS). Climatic data from six weather stations located in and around the watershed, and measured streamflow data from a U.S. Geological Survey gage station at the watershed outlet were used in the sensitivity analysis of SWAT model parameters as well as its calibration and validation for watershed hydrology and streamflow. A sensitivity analysis was performed using an influence coefficient method to evaluate surface runoff and baseflow variations in response to changes in model input hydrologic parameters. The curve number, evaporation compensation factor, and soil available water capacity were found to be the most sensitive parameters among eight selected parameters when applying SWAT to the Maquoketa River watershed. Model calibration, facilitated by the sensitivity analysis, was performed for the period 1988 through 1993, and validation was performed for 1982 through 1987. The model performance was evaluated by well-established statistical methods and was found to explain at least 86% and 69% of the variability in the measured streamflow data for the calibration and validation periods, respectively. This initial hydrologic modeling analysis will facilitate future applications of SWAT to the Maquoketa River watershed for various watershed analyses, including water quality.