A novel form of urbanization, low impact development (LID), aims to engineer systems that replicate natural hydrologic functioning, in part by infiltrating stormwater close to the impervious surfaces that generate it. We sought to statistically evaluate changes in a base flow regime because of urbanization with LID, specifically changes in base flow magnitude, seasonality, and rate of change. We used a case study watershed in Clarksburg, Maryland, in which streamflow was monitored during whole-watershed urbanization from forest and agricultural to suburban residential development using LID. The 1.11-km2 watershed contains 73 infiltration-focused stormwater facilities, including bioretention facilities, dry wells, and dry swales. We examined annual and monthly flow during and after urbanization (2004–2014) and compared alterations to nearby forested and urban control watersheds. We show that total streamflow and base flow increased in the LID watershed during urbanization as compared with control watersheds. The LID watershed had more gradual storm recessions after urbanization and attenuated seasonality in base flow. These flow regime changes may be because of a reduction in evapotranspiration because of the overall decrease in vegetative cover with urbanization and the increase in point sources of recharge. Precipitation that may once have infiltrated soil, been stored in soil moisture to be eventually transpired in a forested landscape, may now be recharged and become base flow. The transfer of evapotranspiration to base flow is an unintended consequence to the water balance of LID.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Urban base flow with low impact development|
|Series title||Hydrological Processes|
|Contributing office(s)||Eastern Geographic Science Center|