Non-point source pollution is well recognized as one of the most critical environmental hazards of modern times. In Illinois, non-point source pollution is the major cause of water quality problems, and soil erosion from agricultural lands is the major source of such pollution. Accelerated by anthropogenic activities, soil erosion reduces crop productivity and leads to subsequent problems from deposition on farmlands and in water bodies. Watershed management, however, promotes protection and restoration of these natural resources while allowing for sustainable economic growth and development. In this study a discrete time optimal control methodology and computational model are developed for determining land use and management alternatives that minimize sediment yield from agriculturally dominated watersheds. The methodology is based on an interface between a genetic algorithm and a U.S. Department of Agriculture watershed model known as Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The original structure of the SWAT model is preserved and modifications are embedded for computational efficiency. The analysis is based on a farm field level to capture the perspectives of different stakeholders. The model thus supports Illinois EPA’s plan of developing a program based on enabling and empowering local stakeholders to take charge of the fate of their watershed. Management alternatives available for all land uses modeled by SWAT are developed considering rotation patterns of three years. The decision support tool is applied to Big Creek sub-watershed in the Cache River watershed, located in Southern Illinois. Big Creek subwatershed has been sighted by the Illinois EPA for excessive sediment and nutrient loadings and has been targeted by the Illinois Pilot Watershed Program. This research is part of an ongoing effort to develop a comprehensive decision support tool that uses multi-criteria evaluation to address social, economic and hydrologic issues for integrative watershed management.


Civil and Environmental Engineering



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cenv_fac/276