Estimating aquifer recharge in Mission River watershed, Texas: Model development and calibration using genetic algorithms

V. Uddameri, M. Kuchanur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Soil moisture balance studies provide a convenient approach to estimate aquifer recharge when only limited site-specific data are available. A monthly mass-balance approach has been utilized in this study to estimate recharge in a small watershed in the coastal bend of South Texas. The developed lumped parameter model employs four adjustable parameters to calibrate model predicted stream runoff to observations at a gaging station. A new procedure was developed to correctly capture the intermittent nature of rainfall. The total monthly rainfall was assigned to a single-equivalent storm whose duration was obtained via calibration. A total of four calibrations were carried out using an evolutionary computing technique called genetic algorithms as well as the conventional gradient descent (GD) technique. Ordinary least squares and the heteroscedastic maximum likelihood error (HMLE) based objective functions were evaluated as part of this study as well. While the genetic algorithm based calibrations were relatively better in capturing the peak runoff events, the GD based calibration did slightly better in capturing the low flow events. Treating the Box-Cox exponent in the HMLE function as a calibration parameter did not yield better estimates and the study corroborates the suggestion made in the literature of fixing this exponent at 0.3. The model outputs were compared against available information and results indicate that the developed modeling approach provides a conservative estimate of recharge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-910
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Geology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Aquifer recharge
  • Soil moisture
  • Texas
  • USA
  • Vadose zone
  • Water balance


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