Best Management Practices Designed to Improve Developing Landscapes
USGS scientists downloading data from a water quality monitoring station. This research examines the relationships between stormwater drainage management practices and water quality.
Urban land use compromises the ability of the landscape to provide important ecosystem services that include water purification (for example, nutrient and sediment removal, retention, or transformation), water storage, groundwater recharge, wildlife and plant habitat, and recreation. Local level stormwater mitigation practices are fundamental to managing pollutant loads and stormwater quantity and timing, and could help developed areas retain some of these services. A newer form of stormwater mitigation is the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) in series (that is, distributed on the landscape), and novel practices including rain gardens, bioretention systems, recharge facilities, storm filters, and volume storage facilities. One goal of distributed stormwater management is to mimic natural watershed hydrologic conditions by reducing the volume and mitigating the timing and quality of surface stormwater runoff. It does this by promoting stormwater infiltration, preserving forested riparian zones, and removing and retaining pollutants including excess nutrients and sediment. This research examines the effects of land cover and compares the use of newer distributed versus traditional centralized stormwater management protocols on groundwater recharge, stream baseflow, and stormwater runoff quantity, timing and quality in comparison to a natural, forested watershed. These ecological effects directly determine the provision of watershed and downstream services of surface and ground water availability, flood mitigation, water quality regulation, and habitat as a function of suburban watershed stormwater management.