Base flow characteristics of a subsurface-drained watershed

Kristopher S. Lander, Prasanta K. Kalita, Richard A. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


An estimate of base flow composition of total-flow volume was obtained by a mass-balance of channel flow performed on a 189.75 m section of drainage channel, in the subsurface-drained Upper Little Vermilion River watershed (ULVR), in Champaign County, Illinois, USA. Total flow volume was measured at 15 minute intervals, with two V-notch weirs, at an upstream and a downstream section of the channel. Due to channel geometry, base flow was the only source for flow addition between the two weirs. A unit base flow volume estimate was calibrated by least square error estimates, for dry-weather periods, from October 1999 through August 2000. An average wet-weather period was found to contain 86% base flow by volume (20% S.D.), producing a range of 66% to 100% base flow composition. A relationship between base flow and channel flow was derived. Base flow was also correlated with contributing rainfall volume to create a model that could be applied to watersheds with similar hydrologic characteristic. A rational hydrograph separation technique was established to partition base flow from tile flow, based upon the correlation between rainfall volume and base flow volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-233
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Agricultural Engineering Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005


  • Base flow. © 2005 AAAE
  • Drainage
  • Hydrograph
  • Hydrology
  • Stream-discharge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering


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