• SWAT;
  • simulation;
  • geospatial analysis;
  • Manning's roughness coefficient;
  • watershed management;
  • coastal watershed

ABSTRACT: The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) has been used for hydrologic analyses at various watershed scales. However, little is known about the model's performance in coastal watersheds. In this study SWAT was evaluated for its applicability in three Louisiana coastal watersheds: the Amite, Tickfaw, and Tangipahoa River watersheds. The model was calibrated with daily discharge from 1976 to 1977 and validated from 1979 to 1999 for the Amite and Tangipahoa and with daily discharge from 1979 to 1989 for the Tickfaw. Deviation of mean discharge and the Nash-Sutcliffe model efficiency were used to evaluate model behavior. The study found that Manning's roughness coefficient for the main channel, SCS curve number, and soil evaporation compensation factor were the most sensitive parameters for these coastal watersheds. The Manning's roughness coefficient showed the greatest effect on the response time of surface runoff, suggesting the critical role of channel routing in hydrologic modeling for lowland watersheds. The SWAT model demonstrated an excellent performance, with Nash-Sutcliffe efficiencies of 0.935, 0.940, and 0.960 for calibrations of the Amite, Tickfaw, and Tangipahoa watersheds, respectively, and of 0.851, 0.811, and 0.867 for validations. The modeling results demonstrate that SWAT is capable of simulating hydrologic processes for medium scale to large scale coastal lowland watersheds in Louisiana.