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Eastern Geographic Science Center

Description of Current Projects

Urban Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management

Principal Investigator: Dianna Hogan, U.S. Geological Survey, Eastern Geographic Science Center

The Science Issue and Relevance
Examples of storm water management (GI)
The majority of the human population lives in urban areas; the ability of these areas to provide ecosystem services including water quality and quantity control, open space, and recreation is important to human well-being and quality of life. Best Management Practices (BMPs) are used to help preserve local and downstream ecosystems through hydrologic and water quality treatment of stormwater runoff. There are numerous types of BMPs, including structural (e.g., detention, retention, rain gardens, bioretention, etc.) and non-structural (e.g., street sweeping, proper fertilizer and oil disposal). Green Infrastructure (GI) uses stormwater BMPs across a landscape in a way that attempts to mimic natural processes, especially hydrology and water quality improvement. In addition, GI includes BMPs not typically used in traditional watersheds; these GI BMPs often focus on infiltration and pollutant removal beyond traditional management. This project analyzes the type, spatial location and connectivity of BMPs and land use patterns (traditional vs GI) to understand their effects on hydrology and pollutant removal.

Methodology for Addressing the Issue
This project ( and has 5 closely integrated components designed to investigate the complex interactions between land use and BMP spatial patterns and types:
  1. effects on stream water quality, timing, flow;
  2. potential for different BMP types to provide denitrification;
  3. effects of GI stormwater infiltration on groundwater and baseflow;
  4. human health via effects on fecal indicator bacteria in receiving streams, and
  5. a cost-benefit analysis of the use of traditional vs GI stormwater management.

Future Steps
Information provided by this study is being used to directly inform land use decision making in an area of the state of Maryland that uses adaptive management in their master development plan. Other jurisdictions also use this information as part of their land use planning. This is important because despite great interest in this new paradigm in stormwater management, there are very few assessment programs, and almost none (other than this) being done at the watershed scale, which is required to understand the impacts of altered flow paths.

Key Words: Best Management Practices (BMPs), Green Infrastructure (GI), ecosystem services

Contact Information:
Dianna Hogan, PhD

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