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Effects of Development on Runoff and Pollutant Export

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Runoff from two similar drainage areas in the Piedmont physiographic region of North Carolina was monitored simultaneously for 5.6 years. One of the drainage areas was developed as part of a large residential subdivision, while the other remained in woods and agricultural fields. Runoff volume was 68% greater for the developed compared with the undeveloped area, and baseflow as a percentage of overall discharge was approximately 0% compared with 25% for the undeveloped area. Overall annual export of sediment was 95% greater for the developed area, while export of nitrogen and phosphorus forms was 66 to 88% greater for the developed area. These results document the significant increases in runoff, sediment, and nutrient export associated with residential development.

Keywords: urban hydrology; water quality; water resources planning

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2007

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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