Method for estimating spatially variable seepage loss and hydraulic conductivity in intermittent and ephemeral streams



[1] A method is presented for estimating seepage loss and streambed hydraulic conductivity along intermittent and ephemeral streams using streamflow front velocities in initially dry channels. The method uses the kinematic wave equation for routing streamflow in channels coupled to Philip's equation for infiltration. The coupled model considers variations in seepage loss both across and along the channel. Water redistribution in the unsaturated zone is also represented in the model. Sensitivity of the streamflow front velocity to parameters used for calculating seepage loss and for routing streamflow shows that the streambed hydraulic conductivity has the greatest sensitivity for moderate to large seepage loss rates. Channel roughness, geometry, and slope are most important for low seepage loss rates; however, streambed hydraulic conductivity is still important for values greater than 0.008 m/d. Two example applications are presented to demonstrate the utility of the method.