USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station


Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
West Annex Building
Albany, CA 94710-0011

(510) 559-6300

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Quantifying the benefits of urban stormwater management

Proposal [pdf]

Lead Researchers:

Nicole Beck, 2NDNATURE, LLC


This research will integrate a number of reliable and cost‐effective stormwater monitoring techniques with existing stormwater management tools customized for the Tahoe Basin Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program to directly improve our quantitative estimates of the water quality benefits of key urban stormwater management practices. The research will focus on two priority research and management objectives: 1. Provide the first set of comprehensive data to validate Pollutant Load Reduction Model (PLRM) catchment‐scale estimates of pollutant loading and runoff using observed water quality and hydrologic data; and 2. Quantify the effectiveness and feasibility of improved road maintenance practices to reduce urban catchment pollutant loads. To address research objective #1, two urban catchments will be selected and monitored over the entire 2012 water year. The catchment land use and Treatment best management practices (BMPs) will be mapped and condition evaluated periodically throughout the 2012 water year. PLRM models of each catchment will be developed using catchment conditions and site specific meteorology. The urban catchment scale research is critical to validate how well our pollutant load estimation tools align with actual observed water quality loading and continue to validate priority hypotheses. The catchment scale observations and protocols will be developed in a manner that could be adopted and continued as a long-term monitoring effort under the Regional Stormwater Monitoring Program (RSWMP) to provide status and trend data on urban stormwater pollutant loading and effectively refine the supporting stormwater tools. To address research objective #2, the research team will work directly with two jurisdictions responsible for maintenance of roads: the City of South Lake Tahoe (CSLT) and Washoe County. Within each monitored catchment a range of road maintenance practices will be developed, documented and implemented by the jurisdiction on the subject roads. The Road Rapid Assessment Model (RAM) tool and the previously defined controlled road experiments will be used to evaluate the condition of all roads within the catchments on regular intervals. The implementation of the Road RAM field observations combined with stormwater quality data over the 2012 water year will allow statistical and modeling analysis of the relative effectiveness of the road maintenance practices conducted. Cost of implementation of each road maintenance practice over the year will be included to provide both water quality improvement effectiveness and cost benefit comparisons of the various practices studied.

Relation to Other Research Including SNPLMA Science Projects

The PLRM is a stormwater pollutant load model for quantifying the expected load reductions of pollutants of concern to Lake Tahoe as a result of water quality improvement actions on urban lands. The actual condition of stormwater infrastructure associated with estimated load reductions from the PLRM can be verified using two Rapid Assessment and Management tools (BMP RAM and Road RAM). This research will augment and expand upon previous research and data collection efforts, including the SNPLMA Round 9 project, "Priority urban stormwater monitoring to directly inform the Pollutant Load Reduction Model (PLRM) ," to test hypotheses generated from the results of past research and prioritize future improvements of the tools being used to quantify feasible water quality improvements. This research will also directly inform a number of assumptions and concepts outlined in the September 2009 version of the Lake Clarity Crediting Program.

Expected date of final products:

September 2013

Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:52:08 PM