A case study demonstrating analysis of stormflows, concentrations, and loads of nutrients in highway runoff and swale discharge with the Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM)

Federal Highway Administration
By:  and 

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Abstract

Decisionmakers need information about the quality and quantity of stormwater runoff, the risk for adverse effects of runoff on receiving waters, and the potential effectiveness of mitigation measures to reduce these risks. The Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) uses Monte Carlo methods to generate stormflows, concentrations, and loads from a highway site and an upstream basin to provide needed risk-based information. SELDM was designed to help inform water-management decisions for streams and lakes receiving runoff from a highway or other land-use site. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief description of SELDM and a hypothetical case study demonstrating the type of risk-based information that SELDM can provide. Total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) were selected as example constituents because nutrients are a common concern throughout the Nation and data for receiving waters, highway runoff, and the performance of best management practices (BMPs) are readily available for these constituents. 

The case study is hypothetical, but was formulated by using actual data from selected monitoring sites in New England. Data representing streamflow and water-quality were collected at U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamgage 01208950 Sasco Brook near Southport, CT, which has a drainage area of 7.38 square miles. In this hypothetical case study a 4-lane highway would replace the current 2-lane road and would have a contributing area of 2.2 acres between the topographic basin divides. Concentrations of TN and TP in highway runoff were simulated with data from USGS highway-runoff monitoring station 423027071291301 along State Route 2 in Littleton Massachusetts. Results of a highway-runoff analysis are shown in relation to three hypothetical discharge criteria for TN and two hypothetical discharge criteria for TP. The risks for exceeding TN discharge criteria of 3, 5, and 8 mg/L for highway runoff are 7.4, 0.83, and 0.13 percent of 1,721 runoff events that may occur during a stochastic 30-year simulation. If a grassy swale is used to treat the runoff, the risks for TN exceedances are reduced to 3.2, 0.33 and 0.03 percent, respectively. The risks for exceeding TP discharge criteria of 0.1 and 0.5 mg/L for highway runoff are 49 and 1.2 percent, respectively. If a grassy swale is used to treat the runoff, the risks for TP exceedances are 57 and 0.8 percent, respectively. The risks for the 0.1 mg/L criterion increase because swales can be a source of TP if pavement concentrations are low. The risks for the 0.5 mg/L criterion decrease because the swale is effective for reducing high TP concentrations. Although the results are mixed for storm-event concentrations, the grassy swale effectively reduces annual loads. Annual loads from the swale are, on average, about 49 percent of highway loads for TN and 62 percent of highway loads of TP because the swale reduces high runoff concentrations and stormflow volumes. Analysis of upstream and downstream concentrations indicates that runoff from the site of interest does not have a substantial effect on instream stormflow concentrations in this example simulation.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Title A case study demonstrating analysis of stormflows, concentrations, and loads of nutrients in highway runoff and swale discharge with the Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM)
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Forester Media Inc.
Publisher location Santa Barbara, CA
Contributing office(s) Massachusetts Water Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 1
Last page 10
Conference Title StormCon
Conference Location Austin, TX
Conference Date 08/6/2015
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N