Evaluating Climate and Land-Use Change in Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Surrounding Mixed Land-Use Areas

U.S. Department of Defense Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP)

RESPEC conducted a study, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), to analyze the effects of changes in climate and land use on water quality and aquatic animal health in the Upatoi Creek Watershed.  

To conduct this study, RESPEC developed a hydrologic and water quality model of the Upatoi Creek Watershed using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) HSPF model. We worked with climate scientists and DOD planners to create two modeling scenarios for Year 2050 that focused on streamflow and sediment-loading changes. 

RESPEC used downscaled meteorological time-series data results from the 2050 Weather Research and Forecasting regional climate model to simulate future climate conditions. The data were then entered into the HSPF model that estimated the flow and sediment conditions of the stream network. The results from the HSPF model were used as input for the EPA’s AQUATOX ecological effects model, which evaluated the climate change and watershed management impacts on aquatic health, specifically the broadstripe shiner and Dixie chub fish species. 

This study’s findings are significant for water-resource management at Fort Benning, Georgia. The results indicate that planners should be attentive to possible increases in the magnitude of flood peaks caused by climate change. The DOD’s commitment to reducing stormwater by implementing green infrastructure practices will help place focus on the effects of land-use changes on the streamflow and sediment phenomena of the training lands at Fort Benning.