Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016ND304B

Modeling Water Balance and Flows of Sediment and Nutrient in Devils Lake Watershed Using SWAT

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $2,625 Total Non-Federal Funds: $5,250

Principal Investigators: Xiaodong Zhang

Abstract: Devils Lake (DL), North Dakota has a long history of water level fluctuation. Over the last two decades, the lake level has increased nearly 10 m, flooding the surrounding communities and infrastructure. Over one billion USD has been spent in mitigation measures, including upper basin water management to reduce the runoff, continuing infrastructure protection and developing emergency outlets. Releasing water through emergency outlets is controversial because the Devils Lake water contains a significantly higher concentration of dissolved solids, and particular sulfate, than the surrounding water bodies. The impaired water quality is largely due to the fact that the Devils Lake is a terminal lake, accumulating nutrients, sediment and other dissolved solids entering into the lake from the watershed that has been primarily used for agricultural production. Because of its high salt concentration, the water is not even suitable for irrigating. Previous studies have been mainly focused on water balance at the DL. None of these studies examined the water quality issues at the DL, which leads to the goal of this study: develop a comprehensive model simulating the lake level fluctuation and lake water quality along with discharge, sediment and nutrients flux. The SWAT model will be used for simulation because of its proven capacity in simulating hydrology and water quality in tributaries and lakes.