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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Rainfall Simulation Methods to Investigate Hydrologic Impervious Surface Effects

Authors
item Pappas, Elizabeth
item Shuster, William - EPA
item Bonta, James
item Smith, Douglas

Submitted to: ASAE Annual International Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2003
Publication Date: July 27, 2003
Citation: Warnemuende, E.A., Shuster, W., Bonta, J.V., Smith, D.R. 2003. Rainfall simulation methods to investigate hydrologic impervious surface effects. In: ASAE Annual International Meeting Proceedings. July 27-30, 2003, Las Vegas, Nevada. 2003 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: As land becomes developed for urban and suburban uses, rooftops and pavement replace natural or farmed landscapes. Rain that falls on rooftops and pavement quickly runs off, instead of infiltrating into the soil as it would generally do in a natural or farmed landscape. This often results in increased flooding, soil erosion, and water pollution. This paper discusses the development of new methods to measure the effects of paving previously farmed land. Laboratory methods were developed in order to study these effects under controlled conditions. The impacts of this paper include improving the ability of land use decision makers to protect soil, water, and property by presenting more reliable methods for measuring how developing previously farmed land for housing or industry affects flooding, erosion, and pollution. Specifically, other researchers will benefit from this paper by learning and applying more reliable methods for measuring urban hydrologic effects in the laboratory. County commissioners, land developers, and zoning boards will be able to use this information to consider the environmental impacts when making decisions about urban development.

Technical Abstract: Urbanization of watersheds previously managed for agricultural uses results in hydrologic and water quality changes including increased flooding, erosion, and surface water degradation. Few studies have been conducted to quantify these effects under controlled conditions and standard rainfall simulation methodologies have not been established. In this project, the feasibility of rainfall simulation methods to evaluate hydrologic and erosional responses to various impervious treatments is examined. In addition, a modular segmented soil box design is developed in order to quantify the hydrologic, erosional, and water quality impacts of specific urban land use configurations, including the impacts of land uses of areas hydraulically connected to impervious areas. Hydrologic, nutrient, and pesticide data from runoff under rainfall simulation will be collected and analyzed. Impervious treatments will include both effective and non effective impervious elements comprising up to 40% of the total hydrologic area.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014