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Effects of selected low-impact-development (LID) techniques on water quality and quantity in the Ipswich River Basin, Massachusetts-Field and modeling studies

August 19, 2010

During the months of August and September, flows in the Ipswich River, Massachusetts, dramatically decrease largely due to groundwater withdrawals needed to meet increased residential and commercial water demands. In the summer, rates of groundwater recharge are lower than during the rest of the year, and water demands are higher. From 2005 to 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey, in a cooperative funding agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, monitored small-scale installations of low-impact-development (LID) enhancements designed to diminish the effects of storm runoff on the quantity and quality of surface water and groundwater. Funding for the studies also was contributed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Targeted Watersheds Grant Program through a financial assistance agreement with Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. The monitoring studies examined the effects of (1) replacing an impervious parking lot surface with a porous surface on groundwater quality, (2) installing rain gardens and porous pavement in a neighborhood of 3 acres on the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff, and (3) installing a 3,000-square foot (ft2) green roof on the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff. In addition, the effects of broad-scale implementation of LID techniques, reduced water withdrawals, and water-conservation measures on streamflow in large areas of the basin were simulated using the U.S. Geological Survey's Ipswich River Basin model.

From June 2005 to 2007, groundwater quality was monitored at the Silver Lake town beach parking lot in Wilmington, MA, prior to and following the replacement of the conventional, impervious-asphalt surface with a porous surface consisting primarily of porous asphalt and porous pavers. Changes in the concentrations of the water-quality constituents, phosphorus, nitrogen, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc, and total petroleum hydrocarbons, were monitored. Increased infiltration of precipitation did not result in discernible increases in concentrations of these potential groundwater contaminants. Concentrations of dissolved oxygen increased slightly in groundwater profiles following the removal of the impervious asphalt parking lot surface.

In Wilmington, MA, in a 3-acre neighborhood, stormwater runoff volume and quality were monitored to determine the ability of selected LID enhancements (rain gardens and porous paving stones) to reduce flows and loads of the above constituents to Silver Lake. Flow-proportional water-quality samples were analyzed for nutrients, metals, total petroleum hydrocarbons, and total-coliform and Escherichia coli bacteria. In general, when all storms were considered, no substantial decreases were observed in runoff volume as a result of installing LID enhancements. However, the relation between rainfall and runoff did provide some insight into how the LID enhancements affected the effective impervious area for the neighborhood. A decrease in runoff was observed for storms of 0.2 inches (in.) or less of precipitation, which indicated a reduction in effective impervious area from approximately 10 percent to about 4.5 percent for the 3-acre area. Water-quality-monitoring results were inconclusive; there were no statistically significant differences in concentrations or loads when the pre- and post-installation-period samples were compared. Three factors were probably most important in minimizing differences: (1) the small decrease in effective impervious area, (2) the differences in the size of storms sampled for water-quality constituents before and after installation of the infiltration enhancing measures, and (3) small sample sizes.

In a third field study, the characteristics of runoff from a vegetated 'green' roof and a conventional, rubber-membrane roof were compared. The amount of precipitation and the length of the antecedent dry period were the two primary factors affecting the gre

Publication Year 2010
Title Effects of selected low-impact-development (LID) techniques on water quality and quantity in the Ipswich River Basin, Massachusetts-Field and modeling studies
DOI 10.3133/sir20105007
Authors Marc J. Zimmerman, Jeffrey R. Barbaro, Jason R. Sorenson, Marcus C. Waldron
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2010-5007
Index ID sir20105007
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Massachusetts Water Science Center