Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 2007
Publication Date: May 15, 2007
Citation: Bonta, J.V., Owens, L.B., Shipitalo, M.J. 2007. Watershed Research at the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed at Coshocton, Ohio. In: Rogers, J.R., editor. Environmental and Water Resources Milestones in Engineering History. Reston, VA:ASCE/EWRI. p. 127-134. Technical Abstract: The North Appalachian Experimental Watershed (NAEW) at Coshocton, Ohio was established during the mid 1930s as one of the first watershed research locations in the US (other locations included Riesel, TX and Hastings, NE). The mission of the outdoor laboratory facility was to determine the effects of land-management practices on hydrology and erosion, to investigate scaling from small plots to large watersheds, and to determine rates and amounts of runoff from watersheds of varying configuration, shape, cover, topography, land-management practice. Concurrently, techniques to measure and sample runoff were developed including the Coshocton wheel, a flow proportional sampler that is used worldwide. Currently, the infrastructure at the NAEW consists of approximately 1000 acres that includes large lysimeters, small and large experimental watersheds, and a network of rain gauges. The earliest land-management practices investigated included an intensive study on the effects of a corn-wheat-meadow-meadow rotation on the steep experimental watersheds with different soils. These early studies contributed to the development of the no-till concept for farming steep lands to reduce erosion and runoff. No-till has been investigated continuously for 43 years at the NAEW with the current emphasis on effects on soil quality, carbon sequestration, and crop residue removal for biofuel production. The original development of the curve number method included Coshocton data which is used worldwide. After about 1970, water quality was added as an objective to watershed studies. Subsequent experimental watershed studies included investigations of the effects of conservation tillage, herbicide application, nutrients, pasture management, mining and reclamation for coal, and urbanization on hydrology and water quality. Other studies conducted throughout the history of the NAEW include those on rain-gauges, soil carbon, evapotranspiration, precipitation simulation, evaluation of effectives of management practices, ground-water recharge, curve numbers, macropores, hydraulics, watershed modeling, and instrumentation development. Expertise and data at the NAEW are sought after worldwide on these topics. The NAEW continues to have an important impact in the soil and water conservation community.