A hybrid computer program is developed to predict the water and salt outflow from a river basin in which irrigation is the major water user. A chemical model which predicts the quality of water percolated through a soil profile is combined with a general hydrologic model into form the system simulation model. The chemical model considers the reactions that occur in the soil, including the exchange of calcium, magnesium, and sodium cations on the soil complex, and the dissolution and precipitation of gypsum and lime. The chemical composition of the outflow is a function of these chemical processes within the soil, plus bending of undiverted inflows, evaporations, transpirations, and the mixing of subsurface return flows with groundwater. The six common ions of western waters, namely calcium (Ca++), magnesium Mg ++), sodium (Na +), sulfate (SO 4=), chloride (Cl-), and bicarbonate (HCO3-), are considered in the study. Total dissolved solids (TDS) outflow is obtained by adding the individual ions. The overall model operates on monthly time increments. The model is tested on a portion of the Little Bear River Basin in northern Utah. The model successfully simulates measured outflows of water and each of the six ions for a 24-month period. Only sodium ions, which occurred in small concentrations comprising approximately 2 percent of the total salt outflow, exhibit significant discrepancies between predicted and observed values. All other ions agree within 10 percent on a weight basis for the two-year model period, with correlation coefficients ranging from .87 to .97. The usefulness of the model is demonstrated by a management study of the prototype system. For example, preliminary results indicated that the available water supply could be used to irrigate additional land without unduly increasing the salt outflow from the basin. With minor adjustments the model can be applied to other areas.
Thomas, Jimmie L.; Riley, J. Paul; and Israelsen, Eugene K., "A Computer Model of the Quantity and Chemical Quality of Return Flow" (1971). Reports. Paper 56.