Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Weber, Larry

Second Advisor

Arenas Amado, Antonio

First Committee Member

Weber, Larry

Second Committee Member

Arenas Amado, Antonio

Third Committee Member

Bradley, A. Allen, Jr.


The hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico is a symptom of a greater problem of nutrient loss to streams across the American Midwest. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responded to the problem by requiring states along the Mississippi River to develop nutrient reduction strategies and implement practices that reduce nutrient loss. The state of Iowa developed their strategy and formed the Iowa Nutrient Research Center (INRC) to study the most effective conservation practices and policies. This thesis is conducted as part of the INRC and is focused on the development of a hydrologic and water quality model of the Cedar Creek watershed in southeastern Iowa.

The Cedar Creek hydrologic and water quality model was created using MIKE SHE, a coupled surface/subsurface modeling software. The model was calibrated using real-time streamflow and water quality measurements taken within the watershed. Several water quality scenarios were tested in order to determine the most effective ways to simulate nitrate concentration within the MIKE SHE framework. The results of this thesis will guide future hydrologic and water quality modeling in agricultural watersheds and serve as a demonstration of the ways to simulate nutrient transport within the landscape.

Public Abstract

High amounts of nutrients in lakes and stream can be detrimental to aquatic life and to the communities that use them. The nutrients carried by the Mississippi River to the ocean has created a region of the Gulf of Mexico that is devoid of aquatic life. In an effort to reduce the size of this region, states in the American Midwest have developed plans to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the Mississippi River. This thesis investigates how computer models can be used to understand how water and nutrients move within a watershed with the objective of developing solutions to this complex problem.


hydrology, model, water quality


xi, 91 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 88-91).


Copyright © 2017 Anthony Vecchi