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Discovering a Link between Urban Runoff Quality and Population Demographics

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

Citation:  21st Century Watershed Technology: Improving Water Quality and Environment Conference Proceedings, 29 March - 3 April 2008, Concepcion, Chile  701P0208cd.(doi:10.13031/2013.24296)
Authors:   Roger H Glick
Keywords:   Urban storm water, water quality, runoff, demographics

Variations in urban stormwater quality are often related to land use and/or impervious cover. Even with significant statistical or deterministic models, large variations remain unexplained in the data; two watersheds with the same land use and similar impervious cover may have significantly different runoff quality. This study examines the relationship between runoff quality from single-family residential watersheds and population demographics. An indicator variable that represented overall runoff quality was developed by normalizing event mean concentrations of seventeen different pollutants and combining the values. The indicator variable was related to population density, non-owner occupancy, household income and educational attainment using multivariate regression. The resulting relationship had an r2 of 0.775. While these factors do not cause problems in water quality directly, this relationship may be used by planers and educators to identify areas that may have water quality problems and better target resources.

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