Hydrological and water quality assessment in a suburban watershed with mixed land uses using the SWAT model

Zeyuan Qiu, Lizhong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


This study applied the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to the Neshanic River watershed, a suburban watershed with mixed land uses in Central New Jersey, United States. The urban lands were prominently in lowa-density residential development. The simulated streamflow and water quality parameters including total suspended solids (TSS), total nitrogen (TN), and total phosphorus (TP) were compared to those of the measured values in the watershed. The Nash-Suttcliffe efficiency was 0.60 for daily streamflow and 0.68 for monthly streamflow during the calibration period 1997-2002, and 0.37 and 0.69 during the validation period 2003-2008, respectively. The model satisfactorily simulated the streamflow, but underestimated the streamflow variability (i.e., the flashiness of this suburban watershed). The measured water quality data at seven locations in the watershed were in general agreement with their corresponding simulated values, but the agreement varied by pollutant. The observed and simulated values show the most consistent agreement in TN, followed by TP and TSS. With the embedded algorithms and parameters used to simulate the hydrological and water quality responses in urban lands, the SWAT model reasonably simulated the hydrological and water-quality conditions in this suburban watershed. The modeling results confirmed that both TSS and TP were water-quality concerns under the current land-use and management conditions in the watershed. Management measures should be implemented to achieve 9% load reduction for TSS and 49% load reduction for TP to meet the required water-quality standards in the watershed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)816-827
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydrologic Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science


  • SWAT
  • Streamflow
  • Suburban watershed hydrology
  • Total nitrogen
  • Total phosphorus
  • Total suspended solids


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