An Approach for Low Flow Selection in Water Resource Management

Author(s): Ouyang, Y.

Low flow selections are essential to water resource management, water supply planning, and watershed ecosystem restoration. In this study, a new approach, namely the frequent-low (FL) approach, was developed based on the frequent low category used in minimum flows and/or levels programs. This approach was then compared to the conventional 7Q10 approach for low flow selections prior to its applications, using the USGS flow data from the freshwater environment (Big Sunflower River, Mississippi) as well as from the estuarine environment (St. Johns River, Florida). Unlike the FL approach that is associated with the biological and ecological impacts, the 7Q10 approach could lead to the selections of extremely low flows (e.g., near-zero flows) that may hinder its use for establishing criteria to prevent streams from significant harm to biological and ecological communities. Additionally, the 7Q10 approach could not be used when the period of data records is less than 10 years while this is not the case for the FL approach. Results from both approaches showed that the low flows from the Big Sunflower River and the St. Johns River decreased as time elapsed, demonstrating that these two rivers have become drier during the last several decades with a potential of salted water intrusion to the St. Johns River. Results from the FL approach further revealed that the recurrence probability of low flow increased while the recurrence interval of low flow decreased as time elapsed in both rivers, indicating that low flows occurred more frequent in these rivers as time elapsed. This report suggests that the FL approach, developed in this study, is a useful alternative for low flow selections in addition to the 7Q10 approach.
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Technical Sessions

1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
5 Watershed Mgmt. #1
6 Non-Point Source Assessment
7 Modeling
8 Water Quality
9 Best Mgt. Practices #2
10 Delta Water Conservation
11 Sedimentation
12 Storm Water
13 Watershed Mgt. #2
14 Public Water Systems
15 Surface Water Assessment & Evaluation

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