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Differentiation of Mass and Flow Limited Rainfall-Runoff Events for Overland Flow from Small Urban Catchments

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Water quantity and quality are coupled phenomena in urban rainfall-runoff. These rainfall-runoff quantity and quality relationships have been significantly altered by the built environment and associated anthropogenic activities. Understanding the relationship between quantity and quality of urban overland flow for a given catchment facilitates development of in-situ wet weather control. One aspect of this relationship for a given catchment is the differentiation between mass and flow-limited event delivery for water quality indices. While there have been many incarnations of mass-limited behavior, such as the much-maligned mass-based first-flush, there have been fewer investigations for differentiating mass limited behavior from flow-limited behavior. The concept of a first-flush can be shown to be one limiting form of such coupled phenomena for small urban catchments, a mass-limited phenomenon. While the common assumption of mass-limited behavior is generally implicitly assumed for urban catchments (generally irrespective of size), this study illustrates that such behavior is only one limiting form of quantity-quality phenomena. This study examines such limits of transport in urban rainfall-runoff and differentiates between coupled quantity and quality behavior in order to classify rainfallrunoff events. Results from two small urban catchments are examined, a fully-paved catchment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a fully-paved catchment in Cincinnati, Ohio. Both sites were urban, paved, and transportation land use and the upper end of the watershed. Results indicate that the derived physical-based differentiation criteria are able to fit experimental data from these two different sites. Results are useful for mass delivery differentiation, physical understanding and for use in models such as SWMM.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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