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International Society for Environmental Information Sciences

Environmental Informatics Archives

ISSN 1811-0231 / ISEIS Publication Series Number P002

Copyright © 2006 ISEIS. All rights reserved.



  Paper EIA06-036, Volume 4 (2006), Pages 395-407 = complimentary

Development of a process-based indicator of land use management for urbanizing headwatersheds

G. Bennett1, C. T. Nietch2*, X. Wang1 and L. Rossman2

1. School of Planning, P.O. Box 210016, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0016, USA.

2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Cincinnati, OH 45220-2242 USA. *Corresponding author: nietch.christopher@epa.gov.



A process-based indicator of land use and its relative degree of management may serve as a better criterion for stormwater effects on water quality in developing watersheds than simpler land-cover classification schemes. Here we describe the procedures used to develop such an indicator for headwatersheds within the 320,000-acre East Fork of the Little Miami River watershed, southwest Ohio, which is undergoing rapid urbanization. The headwatersheds of interest encompass 100 to 1400 acres, a spatial range that is normally lumped into broad land use categories in watershed runoff models. For these sites, we couple geographic information systems methods with hydrological simulation of combined natural stream and storm sewer networks using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Stormwater Management Model (SWMM). Our experience suggests that integrating appropriate landscape design properties into a hydrological model is no small task, but can be streamlined, provided that sufficient information about land cover; the length, distribution, and quality of the storm sewer network; and the location and design of individual stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) is available for the study headwatersheds. Moreover, this process-based effort results in SWMM output that may be used to describe the frequency of flow exceedance in headwater stream channels. In relation to stormwater management/stream protection guidelines, the model output forms a basis for ranking watersheds of varying size and with respect to probable level of impact. Also, the process-based approach allows for tracking how the history of landscape design has altered simulated hydrology at spatial scales larger than typical development projects (i.e., 10 acres or larger). Finally, this methodology facilitates establishing causal links between land use management and water quality in developing watersheds, helping to promote better Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development and implementation.

Keywords: classification, hydrologic condition, streamflow, urbanization, headwater streams, stormwater runoff, Best Management Practices, watershed, land use management


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