First Advisor

Hamid Moradkhani

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering




Recursive Bayesian estimation, Particle filter, Watershed modeling, Water quality -- Lake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.), Suspended sediments -- Lake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.) -- Measurement, Water -- Pollution -- Total maximum daily load -- Lake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 106 p.) : ill. (some col.)


Pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), when a water body has been listed as impaired, Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the water quality constituents causing the impairment must be developed. A TMDL is the maximum daily mass flux of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still safely meet water quality standards. The development of a TMDL and demonstrating compliance with a TMDL requires pollutant load estimation. By definition, a pollutant load is the time integral product of flows and concentrations. Consequently, the accuracy of pollutant load estimation is highly dependent on the accuracy of runoff volume estimation. Runoff volume estimation requires the development of reasonable transfer functions to convert precipitation into runoff. In cold climates where a large proportion of precipitation falls as snow, the accumulation and ablation of snowpack must also be estimated. Sequential data assimilation techniques that stochastically combine field measurements and model results can significantly improve the prediction skill of snowmelt and runoff models while also providing estimates of prediction uncertainty. Using the National Weather Service's SNOW-17 and the Sacramento Soil Moisture Accounting (SAC-SMA) models, this study evaluates particle filter based data assimilation algorithms to predict seasonal snow water equivalent (SWE) and runoff within a small watershed in the Lake Tahoe Basin located in California. A non-linear regression model is then used that predicts suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) based on runoff rate and time of year. Runoff volumes and SSC are finally combined to provide an estimate of the average annual sediment load from the watershed with estimates of prediction uncertainty. For the period of simulation (10/1/1991 to 10/1/1996), the mean annual suspended sediment load is estimated to be 753 tonnes/yr with a 95% confidence interval about the mean of 626 to 956 tonnes/yr. The 95% prediction interval for any given year is estimated to range from approximately 86 to 2,940 tonnes/yr.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Persistent Identifier