Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2013 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Stormwater pollution in suburban Baltimore ecosystems: the role of residential rooftop connectivity
Miles, Brian
Co-Authors: Brian Miles Lawrence Band

Stormwater pollution has been recognized as a major concern of urban sustainability. Understanding interactions between urban landcover and stormwater pollution requires consideration of fine-scale residential stormwater management. Such understanding can be furthered through numerical experiments using spatially explicit ecohydrology models. Application of these models in urban settings requires high-resolution LIDAR and landcover data, as well as field observation at the household scale. The objective of my research is to improve understanding of how fine-scale landcover and topographic heterogeneity in urbanized ecosystems interact to effect stormwater runoff. In support of this objective, I summarize recent work to: (1) perform field observation of existing patterns of residential rooftop connectivity to nearby impervious surfaces; (2) modify the Regional Hydro-Ecological Simulation System (RHESSys) to explicitly represent non-topographic surface flow routing of rooftops; and (3) develop RHESSys models for suburban (Dead Run 5) and exurban (Baisman Run) watersheds in Baltimore County, MD. Here I present preliminary results from these models to simulate stormwater runoff volume and timing resulting from a range of residential rooftop impervious connectivity scenarios: (1) all roofs draining directly to nearby impervious surfaces; (2) all roofs draining to nearby pervious surfaces (e.g. lawn and forested areas); (3) all bottom land (e.g. near the stream) roofs draining directly to impervious; (4) all upland roofs draining to impervious. This research will help to improve representation of fine-scale surface flow features in urban ecohydrology modeling while informing policy decisions over how best to retrofit existing neighborhoods to maximize water retention and quality.