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Challenges of Stormwater Modeling for Urbanized Karst Watersheds

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

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1009274.(doi:10.13031/2013.29840)
Authors:   Katherine L Blansett, James M Hamlett
Keywords:   Urban stormwater, hydrologic modeling, water quality, monitoring, data collecting, karst

Hydrologic models are developed to assist an ever increasing number of policy decisions related to watershed planning and management. Commonly used hydrologic models are simplified approximations of the natural landscape based on empirical data. Little to no data used in the development of the currently accepted models were collected in karst watersheds; this makes the application of models in karst regions questionable at best, but still necessary because of the lack of alternatives. This paper addresses some of the challenges in parameterizing and calibrating the EPA Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) for five urban watersheds with different levels and types of urbanization in the karst region of the Ridge and Valley physiographic province of Central Pennsylvania. SWMM parameter sets are developed using readily available data including: aerial photographs, soils and geology mapping, land use, 2 LiDAR contours, and municipality-mapped storm drain systems. Continuous flow data are being collected at nine locations including the outlet of each watershed. Factors known to impact model parameters include the amount of impervious surfaces, the connectedness of the impervious surfaces, the preservation of natural drainageways and recharge areas, and the extent and rate/capacity of infiltration. The observed flow data from different precipitation events are used to calibrate and validate the model parameters. Results of this study provide further understanding of the critical factors in a karst region that should be considered in parameterizing commonly used hydrologic models, which should lead to more informed watershed planning and management.

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