Modeling Earth Systems and Environment

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 699–728 | Cite as

Assessing the impacts of urbanization on hydrological processes in a semi-arid river basin of Maharashtra, India

  • Satyavati Shukla
  • Shirishkumar Gedam
Original Article


This study investigates the influence of changes in spatial urbanization on the hydrological processes of Upper Bhima River basin of Maharashtra state, India using Soil and Water Assessment Tool hydrological model based simulations. The simulated and observed monthly stream flow rates at the basin outlet were compared for calibration (1985–2004) and validation (2005–2014) of the SWAT model. For both the periods, Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency values were > 0.70, root mean square error observations standard deviation ratio (RSR) values were < 0.50 and percent bias values were < 10. Hence, with coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.89 and 0.96 both the periods showed good agreement between simulated and observed stream flow rates. Urbanization indicators viz. population urbanization level (U p ) and spatial urbanization level (U s ) were estimated to quantify the growth patterns in population and urban areas respectively. Further, correlation analysis and Multivariate analysis of variance were performed between U s and hydrological variables to study the influence of spatial urbanization on hydrological components for comprehending the existing relationships between them. Results reveal that from 1992 to 2014 with increase in U s of 1.44 to 6.31, the average annual surface runoff increased from 438.22 to 448.61 mm [standard deviation (σ) = 4.40; sum of squares (SS) = 58.20], whereas percolation decreased from 153.53 to 139.08 mm (σ = 6.06; SS = 110.10). These hydrological parameters are highly influenced by increase in urbanization. This study is relevant for water sources planners and policy makers for assessment of water resources for sustainable development in the urbanizing semi-arid river basins.


Land use land cover MANOVA Remote sensing and GIS River basin Spatial urbanization level SWAT model 



Authors are also grateful to various national and international Government organizations viz. H. P. Office, Nasik; Survey of India; NBSS&LUP, Nagpur, India; Bhuvan Portal, ISRO, India; Prediction of Worldwide Energy Resource (POWER), NASA, USA; United States Geological Survey (USGS), USA for providing the necessary datasets to carry out the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre of Studies in Resources EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia

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