Stormwater control impacts on runoff volume and peak flow: A meta-analysis of watershed modelling studies

Hydrological Processes
By: , and 



Decades of research has concluded that the percent of impervious surface cover in a watershed is strongly linked to negative impacts on urban stream health. Recently, there has been a push by municipalities to offset these effects by installing structural stormwater control measures (SCMs), which are landscape features designed to retain and reduce runoff to mitigate the effects of urbanisation on event hydrology. The goal of this study is to build generalisable relationships between the level of SCM implementation in urban watersheds and resulting changes to hydrology. A literature review of 185 peer‐reviewed studies of watershed‐scale SCM implementation across the globe was used to identify 52 modelling studies suitable for a meta‐analysis to build statistical relationships between SCM implementation and hydrologic change. Hydrologic change is quantified as the percent reduction in storm event runoff volume and peak flow between a watershed with SCMs relative to a (near) identical control watershed without SCMs. Results show that for each additional 1% of SCM‐mitigated impervious area in a watershed, there is an additional 0.43% reduction in runoff and a 0.60% reduction in peak flow. Values of SCM implementation required to produce a change in water quantity metrics were identified at varying levels of probability. For example, there is a 90% probability (high confidence) of at least a 1% reduction in peak flow with mitigation of 33% of impervious surfaces. However, as the reduction target increases or mitigated impervious surface decreases, the probability of reaching the reduction target also decreases. These relationships can be used by managers to plan SCM implementation at the watershed scale.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Stormwater control impacts on runoff volume and peak flow: A meta-analysis of watershed modelling studies
Series title Hydrological Processes
DOI 10.1002/hyp.13784
Volume 34
Issue 14
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) South Atlantic Water Science Center
Description 19 p.
First page 3134
Last page 3152
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