University of Vermont

RAN: Redesigning the American Neighborhood Project

Project Components

Project Components

Below are summaries of major research efforts related to the overall mission of the RAN project. Team members also developed a number of additional technical products related to stormwater and its management. For information on these, please visit our Fact Sheets page.

In-stream vs. Land-based Sources of Water Pollution (Joel Nipper)
When a water quality problem is observed at a point downstream of developed land cover, it can be difficult to accurately determine the source of the pollutants of concern. This uncertainty concerning the sources of pollutants being delivered to downstream locations can make it more difficult to formulate effective stormwater management strategies. In this research effort, we are attempting to determine the relative contributions of surface washoff and channel erosion to total pollutant loads in a small, mixed-land-use watershed.

Measuring Urban Stream Health Using Ecosystem Metrics (Alex Hackman)
Watershed urbanization may cause an entire suite of impairments to the biological, chemical, and physical conditions of streams and rivers. Yet, despite decades of research, very little is known about how watershed urbanization affects fundamental processes in these important ecosystems. A purpose of this project has been to determine whether or not differences exist in the energy cycles of suburban stormwater-impaired streams and their more pristine rural counterparts.

Tackling Stormwater Runoff with Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis Tools (Helena Vladich)
In this Ph.D. dissertation, Dr. Valdich explores the use of very high resolution imagery as the basis for a detailed map of project runoff patterns from typical suburban neighborhood. This type of imagery (LiDAR) associated geospatial model tools that are now readily availble provide a power set of tools to explore the most effective placement of stormwater BMPs. Dr. Vladich also explores how the outputs from these technical tools can be used by non-technical stakeholders to understand complex stormwater management issues and make decisions about desirable apporaches.

Life Cycle Assessment of Urban Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) (Barton Kirk)
Typically, stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been compared on the basis of their direct environmental impact (i.e. ability to retain pollutants and peak flows of stormwater) and initial capital cost. The RAN Project and BMP managers have realized, however, that the cost of BMPs does not end at installation but also includes costs for preventative maintenance, corrective repair, and replacement or removal. Therefore, a more complete picture of the costs over a BMP's life-cycle is important to help understand its true cost-effectiveness.

Neighborhood Differences in Attitudes and Preferences Regarding Stormwater Runoff (Andrea Kofstad)
Can neighborhoods be the focal point of effective stormwater mitigation and restoration? Or have contemporary neighborhoods become too diffuse and impersonal to be an effective engine of activism? This component of the RAN project applies the community capitals framework to the neighborhood setting to see if capacity building around environmental protection begins at the neighborhood level or if it requires a broader community or regional orientation.

Evaluation of the Performance of a Stormwater Detention Pond (Joel Nipper)
Detention ponds are a significant component of Vermont's efforts to improve water quality in a set of 17 watersheds that have been determined to be impaired as a result of stormwater discharges. Despite their prevalence in the landscape, little research has been done in our region on the actual performance of large, modern design detention ponds. In our research we ask 1) how efficient is a large stormwater detention pond at removal of total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and sediment? and 2) how effective is a large stormwater detention pond at remediating stormwater hydrology in the whole watershed context?

Stream Ecosystem Response to Watershed Development (Evan Fitzgerald)
Urban and suburban stormwater runoff is a widely recognized threat to surface water quality. The Impervious Cover Model (ICM) was developed to explain the general response of stream ecosystems to stormwater runoff across a range of physiographic regions. Research has shown that a stream ecosystem responds when the total impervious area (TIA) is at or above 10% of the watershed area, but little is known about the impacts of urbanization on stream ecosystems at different spatial and temporal scales. Evan's work explored these impacts by testing (1) the effect of TIA on geomorphic stability, physical habitat conditions, and biotic communities at three different spatial scales; (2) the differences between urban and rural downstream hydraulic geometry (DHG) regressions; and (3) the response of stream communities to different stages of urban channel evolution.

Remediating Stormwater Impaired Streams (Julie Foley)
Stormwater impaired streams represent a particular challenge to remediate. To help address this issue, an Investigative Docket process was initiated by the Vermont Water Resources Board in 2004 to explore options for designing and implementing effective cleanup plans for stormwater-impaired waters. This Docket concluded that the primary cause of stream water quality impairment by stormwater is excessive runoff from impervious surfaces. The Docket also concluded that the primary objective of stormwater management should be to return the hydrologic characteristics of impaired streams to a regime that closely parallels the hydrologic properties of streams not currently impaired. However, there was no agreed upon protocol or framework to identify such targets or to prioritize specific locations where stormwater reductions would provide the greatest benefits. Julie's project was initiated to develop a framework that could be used to fill this knowledge gap.

Last modified June 16 2014 11:23 AM

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