How does Low Impact Development affect Urban Base Flow?
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
A novel form of urban development, Low Impact Development (LID), aims to engineer systems that replicate natural hydrologic functioning. LID includes the preservation of near-natural groundwater recharge via infiltration close to impervious surfaces where stormwater is generated. Our study watershed in Clarksburg, Maryland is an instrumented 1.11 km2 watershed developed between 2004 and 2010 with 73 infiltration-focused stormwater facilities, including bioretention facilities, dry wells, and dry swales. We examined changes to annual and monthly streamflow during and after urban development (2004—2014) and compared alterations to nearby forested and urban control watersheds. We show that total flow and base flow increased in the study watershed during development as compared to control watersheds. We also found that the study watershed had slower storm recessions after development and less seasonality in base flow. These changes may be due to a combination of urban processes occurring during development, including reduction in evapotranspiration and the increase in point sources of recharge. Precipitation that may have infiltrated a forested landscape pre-development, been stored in soil moisture, and eventually been transpired by plants may now be recharged to groundwater and become base flow. A transfer of evapotranspiration to base flow is an unintended alteration to the urban water budget, here observed in a watershed using LID.