Coupling upland watershed and downstream waterbody hydrodynamic and water quality models (SWAT and CE-QUAL-W2) for better water resources management in complex river basins


Effective water resources management programs have always incorporated detailed analyses of hydrological and water quality processes in the upland watershed and downstream waterbody. We have integrated two powerful hydrological and water quality models (SWAT and CE-QUAL-W2) to simulate the combined processes of water quantity and quality both in the upland watershed and downstream waterbody. Whereas the SWAT model outputs water quality variables in its entirety, the CE-QUAL-W2 model requires inputs in various pools of organic matter contents. An intermediate program was developed to extract outputs from SWAT at required subbasin and reach outlets and converts them into acceptable CE-QUAL-W2 inputs. The CE-QUAL-W2 model was later calibrated for various hydrodynamic and water quality simulations in the Cedar Creek Reservoir, TX, USA. The results indicate that the two models are compatible and can be used to assess and manage water resources in complex watersheds comprised of upland watershed and downstream waterbodies.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 7
Figure 8
Figure 9
Figure 10
Figure 11
Figure 12
Figure 13
Figure 14
Figure 15
Figure 16


  1. 1.

    Ambrose, R. B., Wool, T. A., & Martin, J. L. (1993). The Water Quality Analysis Simulation Program WASP5, Part A: Model Documentation, Version 5.10. Athens Georgia: US Environmental Protection Agency. Env. Research Lab.

  2. 2.

    Arnold, J. G., Srinivasan, R., Muttiah, R. S., & Williams, J. R. (1998). Large area hydrologic modeling and assessment part I: Model development. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 34(1), 73–89.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Badran, M. I. (2001). Dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll-a and nutrient seasonal cycles in waters of the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management, 4(2), 139–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Bicknell, B. R., Imhoff, J. C., Kittle, J. L., Jr., Donigian, A. S., Jr., & Johanson, R. C. (1997) Hydrological Simulation Program-Fortran (HSPF), Users manual version 11: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Athens, Ga. EPA/600/R-97/080, 755 pp.

  5. 5.

    Bowie, G. L., Mills, W. B., Porcella, D. B., Campbell, C. L., Pagenkopf, J. R., Rupp, G. L., et al. (1985). Rates, constants and kinetic formulations in surface water quality modeling, 2nd edition. EPA/600/3-85/040 (pp. 455). Athens, GA: U.S. EPA.

  6. 6.

    Brown, L. C., & Barnwell, T. O. (1987). The enhanced stream water quality models QUAL2E and QUAL2E-UNCAS: Documentation and user manual. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Athens, GA. EPA/600/3-87-007.

  7. 7.

    Cole, G. A. (1994) Textbook of limnology, 4th ed. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Cole, T. M., & Buchak, E. M. (1995). CE-QUAL-W2: A two dimensional, laterally averaged hydrodynamic and water quality model, version 2.0., User Manual. Instruction Report EL-95-1. Vicksburg, MS: U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways Experiment Station.

  9. 9.

    Cole, T. M., & Wells, S. A. (2003). CE-QUAL-W2: A Two-dimensional, laterally averaged, hydrodynamic and water quality model, version 3.1 user’s manual. Washington, DC: US Army Corps of Engineers.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Dames and Moore (1992). Watershed/water body model development literature review.

  11. 11.

    Debele, B. (2005). Better insight into water resources management through integrated upland watershed and downstream waterbody hydrodynamic and water quality models (SWAT & CE-QUAL-W2). PhD dissertation (pp. 174). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.

  12. 12.

    Debele, B., Srinivasan, R., & Parlange, J.-Y. (2006). Hourly analyses of hydrological and water quality simulations using the SWAT model. Journal of Hydrology, under review.

  13. 13.

    Donigian, A. S., Jr., Imhoff, J. C., Bicknell, B., & Kittle, J. L., Jr. (1984). Application guide for Hydrological Simulation Program-Fortran (HSPF): U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental Research Laboratory, Athens, GA, EPA-600/3-84-065, 177 pp.

  14. 14.

    Environmental Protection Agency. (2000). National water quality inventory report. Washington, DC: US EPA.

  15. 15.

    Environmental Protection Agency (2001). Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) Version 3.0. U.S. EPA Report, Office of Water, EPA-823-B-01-001.

  16. 16.

    Environmental Protection Agency (2003). National management measures for the control of non-point pollution from agriculture. US EPA Office of Waters, EPA-841-B-03-004.

  17. 17.

    Flowers, J. D., Hauck, L. M., & Kiesling, R. L. (2001). Water quality modeling of Lake Waco using CE-QUAL-W2 for assessment of phosphorus control strategies. Texas institute for applied environmental research. Stephenville, TX: Tarleton State University.

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Giller, P. S., & Bjorn, M. (1998). The biology of streams and rivers. Biology of habitats (pp. 296). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Gin, K. Y. H., Zhang, Q. Y., Chan, E. S., & Chou, L. M. (2001). Three-dimensional ecological-eutrophication model for Singapore. Journal of Environmental Engineering, ASCE, 127(10), 928–937.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Kurup, R. G., Hamilton, D. P., & Philips, R. L. (2000). Comparison of two 2-dimensional, laterally averaged hydrodynamic model applications to the San River Estuary. Mathematics and Computers in Simulation, 51, 627–638.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Linked Watershed–Waterbody model (LWWM) (2003). User’s manual version 3.0. Southwest Florida Water Management District. Surface Water Improvement Department (SWIM), Tampa, FL.

  22. 22.

    Leonard, B. P. (1979). A Stable and Accurate Convective Modeling Procedure Based on Upstream Interpolation. Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, 19, 59–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Leonard, B. P. (1991). The ULTIMATE conservative difference scheme applied to unsteady one-dimensional advection. Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, 88, 17–74.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Martin, J. L., & Wool, T. A. (2002) A dynamic one-dimensional model of hydrodynamics and water quality (EPD-RIV1), version 1.0. Model Documentation and User Manual. Atlanta, GA: Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

  25. 25.

    Mueller, D. K., & Helsel, D. R. (1999) Nutrients in the nation’s waters: Too much of a good thing? U. S. Geological Survey Circular, 1136. National Water Quality Assessment Program.

  26. 26.

    Neitsch, S. L., Arnold, J. G., Kiniry, J. R., & Williams, J. R. (2001). Soil and Water Assessment tool (SWAT) user’s manual version 2000. Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory. Temple, TX: ARS.

  27. 27.

    Refsgaard, J. C. (1997). Parameterization, calibration and validation of distributed hydrological models. Journal of Hydrology, 198, 69–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Schindler, D. W. (1971). Food quality and zooplankton nutrition. Journal of Animal Ecology, 40, 598–595.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Shanahan, P., & Harleman, D. (1982). Linked hydrodynamic and biogeochemical models of water quality in shallow lakes, Technical Report 268, R. M. Parson Laboratory. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

  30. 30.

    Vollenweider, R. A. (1968). Scientific fundamentals of the eutrophication of lakes and flowing waters, with particular reference to nitrogen and phosphorus as factors in eutrophication. Paris, France: Tech. Rept. OECD, DAS/CSI/68.27.

  31. 31.

    Vollenweider, R. A. (1976). Advances in defining critical loading levels for phosphorus in lake eutrophication. Hydrobiology, 33, 53–83.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Wool, T. A., Ambrose, R. B., Martin, J. L., & Comer, E. A. (2003). Water Quality Analysis and Simulation Program (WASP) version 6.0, Draft User’s manual. Atlanta, GA: US Environmental Protection Agency.

Download references


This material is based upon work supported by the US Environmental Protection Agency under Agreement No. X7-9764801-0. We would like to thank Mr. Tom Cole (US Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS), and Ms. Jennifer Owens and Mr. Mark Ernst (TRWD, Fort Worth, Texas) for better insights into the CE-QUAL-W2 model and providing the bathymetry and water quality data for Cedar Creek Reservoir, respectively. Comments provided by Mr. Ernst and two other anonymous reviewers greatly improved the quality of this manuscript.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to B. Debele.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Debele, B., Srinivasan, R. & Parlange, JY. Coupling upland watershed and downstream waterbody hydrodynamic and water quality models (SWAT and CE-QUAL-W2) for better water resources management in complex river basins. Environ Model Assess 13, 135–153 (2008).

Download citation


  • CE-QUAL-W2
  • hydrodynamic model
  • model integration
  • waterbody
  • water quality model