Aridland Water Harvesting Study

Chiricahua Mountains

Reduction of Channel Gradients

Drainages in the Chiricahua Mountains are impacted by large rain events that cause gullying effects in the headwaters, overflow at road crossings, flooding of campgrounds, and overwhelming sediment loads at outlets (Chiricahua National Monument). Monsoon rains following recent fires cause severe flooding in most drainages and debris flows in many others (Youberg et al. 2013). Watershed restoration has been a major goal of private land owners at the El Coronado (EC) ranch.

Measuring Stream Discharge

Measuring Stream Discharge

Fletcher Brinkerhoff (WRD)Evan Gwilliam (NPS)


We used the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to model the paired watersheds and develop future scenarios to consider longer-term impacts to the water budget and future scenarios. SWAT has been used for studying the impact of land use change and climate change as well as their combined/interactive effect on water resources (Arnold et al. 1998). Model outputs are estimates of the local water budget (storage, streamflow, runoff, infiltration, interception, and evapotranspiration).

Paired Watershed Map

Figure 1. Map of paired watersheds

Figure 2. Photo of streams converging where treated watershed has less sediment.

SWAT output

Figure 3. Output of SWAT model displaying sediment yield events.

Modeling Discharge & Sediment

We used the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to model the paired watersheds and develop future scenarios to consider longer-term impacts to the water budget and future scenarios. SWAT has been used for studying the impact of land use change and climate change as well as their combined/interactive effect on water resources (Arnold et al. 1998). Model outputs are estimates of the local water budget (storage, streamflow, runoff, infiltration, interception, and evapotranspiration).

Analyzing Sediment Chemistry **Carbon**

random photos

Points of contact:

Laura M. Norman, Ph.D. (520-670-5510)

Research Briefs

Monitoring Restoration in Turkey Creek (2014 SIRC Research Brief) http://borderlandsrestoration.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Turkey-Creek.pdf

Watershed Restoration in the Chiricahua Mountains (2015 SIRC Research Brief)  http://borderlandsrestoration.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Watershed-Restoration-in-the-Chiricahua-Mountains.pdf

Monitoring Vegetation Response to Watershed Restoration (2015 SIRC Research Brief)  http://borderlandsrestoration.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Monitoring-Vegetation-Response-to-Watershed-Restoration.pdf

Research Presentations/Publications

Callegary, J. B., Norman, L. M., Eastoe, C. J., Sankey, J. B., & Youberg, A. (2016, December). Post-Wildfire Potential for Carbon and Nitrogen Sequestration in the Southwestern United States in Restored Ephemeral and Intermittent Stream Channels. Presented at the AGU Fall Meeting - American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, Calif.

Norman, L. M., Brinkerhoff, F., Gwilliam, E., Guertin, D. P., Callegary, J., Goodrich, D. C., … Gray, F. (2015). Hydrologic Response of Streams Restored with Check Dams in the Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona. River Research and Applications, n/a–n/a. https://doi.org/10.1002/rra.2895

Norman, Laura M. (2014a, October). Investigations of Rock Detention Structures Presented at Ecological Restoration Conference. Presented at the Joint Conference for Texas & Southwest Chapters of the Society for Ecological Restoration in the Southwest, Alpine, TX.

Norman, Laura M. (2014b, October). Hydrologic Investigations of Rock Detention Structures. Presented at the Joint Conference for Texas & Southwest Chapters of the Society for Ecological Restoration in the Southwest. Retrieved from http://chapter.ser.org/texas/files/2014/10/Hydrologic-Investigations-of-Rock-Detention-Structures.pdf

Norman, Laura M., Gwilliam, E., Brinkerhoff, F., Pelletier, J., Villarreal, M. L., Nagler, P. L., … Guertin, D. P. (2013, September). How do gabions influence infiltration in arid lands? A Paired Watershed Experiment in an Arizona Sky Island. Presented at the Arizona Hydrological Society (AHS) Symposium, “Shifting Boundaries: Recalibrating the Hydrologic Approach,” Tucson, Ariz. Retrieved from http://ahssymposium.org/2013/program/tech-sessions/

Norman, Laura M., & Niraula, R. (2016). Model analysis of check dam impacts on long-term sediment and water budgets in Southeast Arizona, USA. Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology, 16(3), 125–137. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecohyd.2015.12.001

Norman, Laura M., Sankey, J. B., Dean, D. J., Caster, J., DeLong, S. B., DeLong, W. M., & Pelletier, J. (2016, November). Quantifying geomorphic change at ephemeral stream restoration sites using a coupled-model approach. Presented at the 2016 Annual Conference of the Society of Ecological Restoration – Southwest Chapter, Las Vegas, NV. Retrieved from http://chapter.ser.org/southwest/2016-annual-conference/

Norman, Laura M., Sankey, J. B., Dean, D. J., Caster, J., DeLong, S. B., DeLong, W. M., & Pelletier, J. (2017). Quantifying geomorphic change at ephemeral stream restoration sites using a coupled-model approach. Geomorphology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.01.017

Works Cited

Arnold, J. G., Srinivasan, R., Muttiah, R. S., & Williams, J. R. (1998). Large Area Hydrologic Modeling and Assessment Part I: Model Development1. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 34(1), 73–89. doi:10.1111/j.1752-1688.1998.tb05961.x

Smith, C.F., Cordova, J.T., and Wiele, S.M., 2010, The continuous slope-area method for computing event hydrographs: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5241, 37 p.

Waidler, D., White, M., Steglich, E., Wang, S., Williams, J., Jones, C. A., & Srinivasan, R. (2011). Conservation practice modeling guide for SWAT and APEX. Texas Water Resources Institute Technical Report, (399), 71.

Youberg, Ann; Neary, Daniel G.; Koestner, Karen A.; Koestner, Peter E. 2013. Post-wildfire erosion in the Chiricahua Mountains. In: Gottfried, Gerald J.; Ffolliott, Peter F.; Gebow, Brooke S.; Eskew, Lane G.; Collins, Loa C. Merging science and management in a rapidly changing world: Biodiversity and management of the Madrean Archipelago III and 7th Conference on Research and Resource Management in the Southwestern Deserts; 2012 May 1-5; Tucson, AZ. Proceedings. RMRS-P-67. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 357-361


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