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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 4, p. 1388-1401
    Received: May 5, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): joseph.d.nigro@nasa.gov
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NASA-Modified Precipitation Products to Improve USEPA Nonpoint Source Water Quality Modeling for the Chesapeake Bay

  1. Nigro Joseph *a,
  2. Toll Davidb,
  3. Partington Edc,
  4. Wenge Ni-Meisterd,
  5. Lee Shihyand,
  6. Gutierrez-Magness Angelicae,
  7. Engman Tedf and
  8. Arsenault Kristig
  1. a Science Systems and Applications, Inc., 10210 Greenbelt Rd., Suite 600, Lanham, MD 20706
    b NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Hydrological Sciences Branch, Code 614.3, Greenbelt, MD 20771
    c U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460
    d Hunter College of the City Univ. of New York, Dep. of Geography, 695 Park Ave., New York, NY 10021
    e U.S Geological Survey, Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Water Science Center, 5522 Research Park Dr., Baltimore, MD 21228, and Chesapeake Bay Program, 410 Severn Ave., Annapolis, MD 21403
    f NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Hydrological Sciences Branch, Code 614.3, Greenbelt, MD 20771
    g Center for Research on Environment and Water, 4041 Powder Mill Rd., Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705. Assigned to Associate Editor Ali Sadeghi


The USEPA has estimated that over 20,000 water bodies within the United States do not meet water quality standards. One of the regulations in the Clean Water Act of 1972 requires states to monitor the total maximum daily load, or the amount of pollution that can be carried by a water body before it is determined to be “polluted,” for any watershed in the United States (Copeland, 2005). In response to this mandate, the USEPA developed Better Assessment Science Integrating Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) as a decision support tool for assessing pollution and to guide the decision-making process for improving water quality. One of the models in BASINS, the Hydrological Simulation Program–Fortran (HSPF), computes continuous streamflow rates and pollutant concentration at each basin outlet. By design, precipitation and other meteorological data from weather stations serve as standard model input. In practice, these stations may be unable to capture the spatial heterogeneity of precipitation events, especially if they are few and far between. An attempt was made to resolve this issue by substituting station data with NASA-modified/NOAA precipitation data. Using these data within HSPF, streamflow was calculated for seven watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay Basin during low flow periods, convective storm periods, and annual flows. In almost every case, the modeling performance of HSPF increased when using the NASA-modified precipitation data, resulting in better streamflow statistics and, potentially, in improved water quality assessment.

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