Principal Investigator: Dr. Mary Watzin (Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources)
Funding Agency: US DOT
This project is investigating how various road types (highway, suburban paved, and rural unpaved) and road density (low versus high) affects water quality, stream integrity, and pollutant load. The research team has instrumented six small watersheds in Chittenden County ranging from a highly urban watershed with a high density of paved roads to a relatively undeveloped watershed with rural unpaved roads to continuously measure water flow, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen concentrations. The team is also collecting flow-proportional water samples to examine water quality changes in storm events, focusing on suspended sediment, chloride (road salt), total phosphorus, and total nitrogen concentrations.
The project team will also characterize stream geomorphic and habitat conditions, and gather detailed land use, soils, and other information about the watersheds draining to each site. The results from this research will then be used to develop models that can be used to predict how differences in road types, road densities, soils, and land use affect water quality, stream integrity, and pollutant load. These analyses are relevant to the integrated model because land use and land cover are standard outputs of UrbanSim. Once these relationships are established, they can be used to link standard model outputs (e.g. land use change, road type and density) under varying development scenarios to predicted water quality characteristics.