Assessment of the Largest Impacts on Soil Infiltration for the Prioritization of Urban Stormwater Management

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Chase Bergeson, Katherine Martin , Barbara Doll

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Increasingly urbanized watersheds are creating new challenges for stormwater management, as some relevant aspects of urban hydrology are not well understood. Stormwater mitigation in urban watersheds is heavily reliant on limited areas of greenspace, whose hydrological functionality is essential to the control of urban ponding and flooding. Due to the compacted and disturbed nature of soils in urban greenspaces, their capacity for infiltrating direct precipitation and runoff from impervious surfaces is important in reducing the impacts of stormwater flows in urban areas, but is often unknown without extensive field data. Determining which physical factors can be used to best predict where soils have the least capacity for infiltration can help managers determine where soils should be rehabilitated to increase their functional capacity and mitigate urban runoff. This study examines the spatial distribution of soil infiltration rates across a humid, urban watershed near Raleigh, NC and which factors have the greatest impact on predicting areas with low soil infiltration capacity. In this study, researchers measured soil infiltration rates distributed throughout the watershed on minimally developed, residential, and highly developed land with differing soil types, vegetation cover, and age since development. Preliminary results show that soil infiltration capacities are most sensitive to land use (p<0.01). Estimations of land use may be available from local records or remote sensing data. The use of this factor in urban watersheds can be used to locate opportunities for soil rehabilitation and increased stormwater mitigation.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program