Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Weber, Larry J.

Second Advisor

Schilling, Keith E.

First Committee Member

Bradley, A. Allen

Second Committee Member

Ikenberry, Charles


This thesis evaluates the surface water hydrology in an artificially drained and farmed prairie pothole wetland located in north-central Iowa as part of the Iowa DNR Wetland Program Development (WPD) project. The purpose of the WPD project was to begin documentation of basic hydrology, wildlife value, and water quality to improve understanding of ecosystem services provided by drained prairie pothole wetlands. The surface water hydrology was evaluated using a daily water balance (PPWB) model. The model development, validation, and applications are described in detail in this thesis.

The PPWB model estimates the water depth and duration in the drained wetland. Several sensitivity analyses were performed to evaluate how site-specific factors affect the frequency, depth, and duration of surface ponding in the drained wetland. In the absence of surface inlets, infiltration was found to have a significant impact on ponding, second only to the amount of precipitation in importance. The topography also plays an important role in surface water ponding, with higher ponding durations occurring for larger catchment-to-pothole area ratios. However, the presence of a surface inlet in a drained prairie pothole wetland significantly alters the hydrology and all other ponding factors become negligible. In addition, long-term ponding was evaluated for historic and future hydrologic trends. The long-term simulation showed increasing trends for precipitation and ponding duration.

The possible implications of continued farming of drained wetlands were explored using PPWB model sensitivity analysis and long-term simulation results. Agricultural implications include mitigation strategies to balance ecosystem needs with crop production and impacts of the projected future outlook with regards to climate. Environmental implications include insight on impacts of wetland restoration.


hydrology, ponding, prairie pothole, water balance


viii, 78 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 73-78).


Copyright 2016 Stephanie Rose Then