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Water Management Association of Ohio conference abstract: A Neighborhood-Scale Green Infrastructure Retrofit

I was asked to submit an abstract for the Water Management Association of Ohio conference in November. I’m going to try to sum up 4 years worth of work on the green infrastructure retrofit we’ve been studying in Parma, and I’m looking forward to learning about from the other presenters at this very applied conference.

A Neighborhood-Scale Green Infrastructure Retrofit: Experimental Results, Model Simulations, and Resident Perspectives

Anne J. Jefferson, Pedro M. Avellaneda, Kimberly M. Jarden, V. Kelly Turner, Jennifer M. Grieser

There is growing interest in distributed green infrastructure approaches to stormwater management that can be retrofit into existing development, but there are relatively few studies that demonstrate effectiveness of these approaches at the neighborhood scale. In suburban northeastern Ohio, homeowners on a residential street with 55% impervious surface were given the opportunity to receive free rain barrels, rain gardens, and bioretention cells. Of 163 parcels, only 22 owners (13.5%) chose to participate, despite intense outreach efforts. After pre-treatment monitoring, 37 rain barrels, 7 rain gardens, and 16 street-side bioretention cells were installed in 2013-2014. The monitoring results indicate that the green infrastructure succeeded in reducing peak flows by up to 33% and total runoff volume by up to 40% per storm. The lag time between precipitation and stormflow also increased. A calibrated and validated SWMM model was built to explore the long-term effectiveness of the green infrastructure under 20 years of historical precipitation data. Model results confirm that green infrastructure reduced surface runoff and increased infiltration and evaporation. The model shows that the green infrastructure is capable of reducing flows by >40% at the 1, 2, and 5 year return period, and that, in this project, more benefit is derived from the street-side bioretention cells than from the rain barrels and gardens that treat rooftop runoff. Surveys indicate that many residents viewed stormwater as the city’s problem and had negative perceptions of green infrastructure, despite slightly pro-environment values generally. Substantial hydrological gains were achieved despite low homeowner participation. The project showcases the value of careful experimental design and monitoring to quantify the effects of a green infrastructure project. Finally, the calibrated model allows us to explore a wider range of hydrologic dynamics than can be captured by a monitoring program.

Post-doc Opportunity in Watershed Modeling at Kent State University

This position has been filled. Thanks for your interest.

Post-doctoral Associate in Watershed Modeling

A post-doctoral position focusing on hydrologic modeling of urban watersheds is available in the Department of Geology, Kent State University, in the lab of Anne Jefferson (http://all-geo.org/jefferson/research/). The successful candidate will have experience using RHESSys or another distributed watershed model and interest in applying their skills to questions about the effects of green infrastructure and climate change in urban areas. The post-doc will be expected to contribute to research design and undertaking, publication, and pursuit of external funding. There will also be the potential to develop additional projects building on the strengths, interests, and expertise of the successful candidate. The post-doc will have access to a wealth of data sets, field sites and instrumentation; an interdisciplinary, collaborative group of researchers and external partners focused on urban ecosystems; and a campus mentoring program for postdocs.

Kent State University (www.kent.edu), the second largest university in Ohio, is a state-supported, doctoral degree granting institution ranked as ‘high research’ by the Carnegie Foundation. The Department of Geology (www.kent.edu/geology/) has a strong graduate program (both MS and Ph.D. degrees) in both applied and basic areas of geologic research. The city of Kent combines the eclectic atmosphere of a small midwest college town with easy access to major metropolitan centers, including Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, and Pittsburgh.

Salary will be commensurate with experience and includes a competitive benefits package. Funding is initially available to support 1.5 years of work and opportunities will be sought to extend the support. If you are interested in learning more about the position, e mail Anne Jefferson (ajeffer9 at kent edu) with your CV, a description of your interests and experiences, and contact information for three people willing to serve as references. Review of applications will begin March 1st and continue until the position is filled. Kent State University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages interest from candidates who would enhance the diversity of the University’s faculty.

Abstract: Using Computer Modeling To Asses Hydraulic Parameter Transferability From An Undeveloped To An Urban Watershed With Stormwater Infrastructure

Rounding out the abstracts from our group for the 2012 Geological Society of America meeting, Colin Bell will be presenting preliminary model results.

USING COMPUTER MODELING TO ASSES HYDRAULIC PARAMETER TRANSFERABILITY FROM AN UNDEVELOPED TO AN URBAN WATERSHED WITH STORMWATER INFRASTRUCTURE

BELL, Colin D., Dept. Infrastructure and Environmental Systems, UNC Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28262, cdbell01@yahoo.com, MCMILLAN, Sara, Department of Engineering Technology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, JEFFERSON, Anne J., Department of Geology, Kent State University, 221 McGilvrey Hall, Kent, OH 44240, TAGUE, Christina, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, and CLINTON, Sandra, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223

Urban infrastructure expansion causes the alteration of hydrologic and nutrient regimes during storms, elevating peak discharges and nitrogen (N) concentrations in receiving streams. The inclusion of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) in urban watersheds has been found to help ameliorate these problems by attenuating hydrographs and reducing N concentrations through denitrification and uptake. The Regional Hydro-Ecological Simulation System (RHESSys) is a distributed, process-based model that simulates hydrologic activity as well as natural and anthropogenic N processing and export. RHESSys is being used to develop hydro-ecological models to assess the impact of different BMP implementation strategies on instream N in a developing residential watershed in Charlotte, NC where water quality and land use data accompany 10 years of hydrologic data. Hydraulic parameter sets have been calibrated to simulate subsurface water propagation in a nearby, undeveloped watershed with no existing stormwater infrastructure. The suitability of these parameter sets has been assed using the GLUE uncertainty prediction procedure, a calibration and uncertainty estimation method that addresses the equifinality of parameter sets given errors in model structure and observed data. The viability for transferring the model parameters to the urban watershed has been analyzed by comparing an observed discharge record with one predicted using calibrated parameters. Future RHESSys simulations will test multiple, spatially-explicit scenarios to identify the BMP treatment scenarios that minimize aquatic ecosystem degradation.

Abstract: Using Watershed Modeling to Optimize Management of Urban Stormwater to Control Stream Nitrogen

Ph.D. student Colin Bell will be presenting the following poster at the American Ecological Engineering Society meeting this week in Syracuse, New York.

Using Watershed Modeling to Optimize Management of Urban Stormwater to Control Stream Nitrogen

Colin Bell
Dr. Sara McMillan
Dr. Christina Tague
Dr. Anne Jefferson
Dr. Sandra Clinton

Urban infrastructure expansion causes the alteration of hydrologic and nutrient regimes, elevating nitrogen (N) concentrations in the streams that receive stormwater runoff. The inclusion of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) in urban watersheds has been found to help ameliorate these problems by retaining water and reducing N concentrations through denitrification and uptake. The Regional Hydro-Ecological Simulation System (RHESSys) is currently being used to test the impact of different BMP implementation strategies and fertilizer application regimes to simulate their effects on instream N in an urbanizing, residential watershed in Charlotte, NC. RHESSys is a distributed, process-based model that simulates natural and anthropogenic N and carbon (C) sources, processing and export. Watershed characterization of two watersheds with contrasting land uses (suburban and forested), along with field monitoring of instream and BMP water chemistry is currently being completed. This will allow us to parameterize the influences of existing BMPs on instream N concentrations, and allow RHESSys to scale up their observed functionality. RHESSys will test multiple, spatially-explicit scenarios to identify the combination of N loading and BMP treatment that minimizes aquatic ecosystem degradation so that land developers can urbanize responsibly.