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Changes in event‐based streamflow magnitude and timing after suburban development with infiltration‐based stormwater management

October 9, 2019

Green stormwater infrastructure implementation in urban watersheds has outpaced our understanding of practice effectiveness on streamflow response to precipitation events. Long‐term monitoring of experimental urban watersheds in Clarksburg, Maryland, USA, provided an opportunity to examine changes in event‐based streamflow metrics in two treatment watersheds that transitioned from agriculture to suburban development with a high density of infiltration‐focused stormwater control measures (SCMs). Urban Treatment 1 has predominantly single family detached housing with 33% impervious cover and 126 SCMs. Urban Treatment 2 has a mix of single family detached and attached housing with 44% impervious cover and 219 SCMs. Differences in streamflow‐event magnitude and timing were assessed using a before‐after‐control‐reference‐impact design to compare urban treatment watersheds to a forested control and an urban control with detention‐focused SCMs. Streamflow and precipitation events were identified from 14 years of sub‐daily monitoring data with an automated approach to characterize peak streamflow, runoff yield, runoff ratio, streamflow duration, time to peak, rise rate, and precipitation depth for each event. Results indicated that streamflow magnitude and timing were altered by urbanization in the urban treatment watersheds, even with SCMs treating 100% of the impervious area. The largest hydrologic changes were observed in streamflow magnitude metrics, with greater hydrologic change in Urban Treatment 2 compared to Urban Treatment 1. While streamflow changes were observed in both urban treatment watersheds, SCMs were able to mitigate peak flows and runoff volumes compared to the urban control. The urban control had similar impervious cover to Urban Treatment 2, but Urban Treatment 2 had more than twice the precipitation depth needed to initiate a flow response and lower median peak flow and runoff yield for events less than 20 mm. Differences in impervious cover between the Urban Treatment watersheds appeared to be a large driver of differences in streamflow response, rather than SCM density. Overall, use of infiltration‐focused SCMs implemented at a watershed‐scale did provide enhanced attenuation of peak flow and runoff volumes compared to centralized‐detention SCMs.

Publication Year 2020
Title Changes in event‐based streamflow magnitude and timing after suburban development with infiltration‐based stormwater management
DOI 10.1002/hyp.13593
Authors Kristina G. Hopkins, Aditi S. Bhaskar, Sean Woznicki, Rosemary M. Fanelli
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Hydrological Processes
Index ID 70205935
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geographic Science Center; Maryland Water Science Center; South Atlantic Water Science Center