A modeling approach to evaluate the impacts of water quality management plans implemented in a watershed in Texas
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Several best management practices (BMPs) have been implemented through Water Quality Management Plans (WQMPs) in the West Fork Watershed of Trinity River Basin in Texas, USA, where nonpoint source pollution is a serious concern. Major sources of pollution are sediment erosion and nutrients. The objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term impact of implementation of WQMPs on nonpoint source pollution at the farm level and watershed level using a modeling approach. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool watershed model was applied to quantify the impacts of implementing WQMPs on sediment and nutrients. A pre-BMP scenario representing conditions of the watershed prior to the implementation of WQMPs, and a post-BMP scenario representing the conditions of the watershed after implementation of WQMPs were simulated to estimate the reductions in nonpoint source pollution due to WQMP implementation. The results are presented as percentage reductions in sediment and nutrient loadings, at the farm level and at two locations within the watershed. The results revealed that (a) the benefits of the WQMPs were greater (up to 99%) at the farm level and (b) the benefits due to WQMPs were 1-2% at the watershed level. Watershed level benefits are tangible as the WQMP implementation area is very small compared to the watershed area. An additional scenario was evaluated to show the possible impacts of expanding the current BMP effort on load reductions. This study showed that a modeling approach can be used to estimate the impacts of water quality management programs in large watersheds. 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.