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The Effectiveness of Rural Unpaved Road BMPs in Reducing Sediment Loads in the Stillwater Creek, OK Watershed

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Watershed ManWatershed Management to Meet Water Quality Standards and TMDLS (Total Maximum Daily Load) Proceedings of the 10-14 March 2007, San Antonio, Texas  701P0207.(doi:10.13031/2013.22446)
Authors:   Donald J Turton, Elaine Stebler, Michael D Smolen
Keywords:   Road erosion, unpaved road erosion, low-volume road erosion, road BMPs, BMP effectiveness

Sediment yields from 2 pairs of unpaved rural roads segments in the Stillwater Creek, Oklahoma watershed were collected over a 2 year period for over 60 storms. The 4 road segments were typical of unpaved roads in the watershed. They ranged from 160 - 260 m in length, were built of native materials, poorly crowned, and had bar ditches on both sides that drained directly into streams. Sediment traps collected erosion from one half of the road area and the associated bar ditch and fore and back slopes. The traps consisted of a settling trough, an H-flume to measure discharge and an automatic pumping sampler. An electronic data logger controlled data retrieval and storage. BMPs were installed on one segment per pair during the 2nd year of the study. The BMPs consisted of techniques such as establishing a crown on the road surface, application of a geo-synthetic fabric, shaping and widening the ditches, reducing gradients on fore and back slopes, laying crusher run gravel on the road surface and seeding disturbed areas. Sediment yields measured during the first year (pre-BMPs) averaged about 150,000 kg ha-1 or 64,000 kg km-1 across the 4 segments. A double mass analysis was used to determine whether or not the BMPs reduced sediment yield. Based on these analyses, we determined that the BMPs significantly reduced sediment yields 50-80%. Our work demonstrates that if road sediment is a significant source of stream sediment in impaired waters, the installation of BMPs can be effective in reducing the sediment loads and should be included in TMDL planning.

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