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Effects of urban development on stormwater runoff characteristics for the Houston, Texas, metropolitan area

November 1, 2001

A study was done to estimate the effects of urban development in the Houston, Texas, metropolitan area on nine stormwater runoff characteristics. Three of the nine characteristics define the magnitude of stormwater runoff, and the remaining six characteristics describe the shape and duration of a storm hydrograph. Multiple linear regression was used to develop equations to estimate the nine stormwater runoff characteristics from basin and rainfall characteristics. Five basin characteristics and five rainfall characteristics were tested in the regressions to determine which basin and rainfall characteristics significantly affect stormwater runoff characteristics. Basin development factor was found to be significant in equations for eight of the nine stormwater runoff characteristics. Two sets of equations were developed, one for each of two regions based on soil type, from a database containing 1,089 storm discharge hydrographs for 42 sites compiled during 1964–89.

The effects of urban development on the eight stormwater runoff characteristics were quantified by varying basin development factor in the equations and recomputing the stormwater runoff characteristics. The largest observed increase in basin development factor for region 1 (north of Buffalo Bayou) during the study resulted in corresponding increases in the characteristics that define magnitude of stormwater runoff ranging from about 40 percent (for direct runoff) to 235 percent (for peak yield); and corresponding decreases in the characteristics that describe hydrograph shape and duration ranging from about 22 percent (for direct runoff duration) to about 58 percent (for basin lag). The largest observed increase in basin development factor for region 2 (south of Buffalo Bayou) during the study resulted in corresponding increases in the characteristics that define magnitude of stormwater runoff ranging from about 33 percent (for direct runoff) to about 210 percent (for both peak flow and peak yield); and corresponding decreases in the characteristics that describe hydrograph shape and duration ranging from about 38 percent (for direct runoff duration) to about 64 percent (for basin lag). 

Citation Information

Publication Year 2001
Title Effects of urban development on stormwater runoff characteristics for the Houston, Texas, metropolitan area
DOI 10.3133/wri014071
Authors Fred Liscum
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 2001-4071
Index ID wri014071
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Texas Water Science Center