Dispersed urban-stormwater control improved stream water quality in a catchment-scale experiment/data and code
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Description: Traditional approaches to urban drainage degrade receiving waters. Alternative approaches have potential to protect downstream waters and provide other benefits to cities, including greater water security. Their adoption requires robust demonstration of their feasibility and effectiveness. We conducted a catchment-scale, before-after-control-reference-impact experiment to assess the effect of dispersed stormwater control on stream ecosystems. We used a variant of effective imperviousness (EI), integrating catchment-scale stormwater runoff impact and stormwater control measure (SCM) performance, as the measure of experimental effect. We assessed the response of water quality variables in 6 sites on 2 streams, following SCM implementation in their catchments. We compared changes in those streams over 7 years, as SCM implementation increased, to the 12 preceding years, and over the 19 years in 3 reference and 2 control streams. In an accompanying paper (Walsh et al. in review) we use the code and data stored in this project to demonstrate that SCMs reduced phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations and temperature, and increased electrical conductivity; most strongly in dry weather, with reduced effect sizes following increasingly large rain events. SCM-induced reductions in phosphorus and temperature were of a similar magnitude to increases from urban development, when assessed as a function of change in EI. Nitrogen reductions were observed, even though increased concentrations were not correlated with EI, and are more influenced by septic tank seepage. SCMs had no effect on suspended solids concentrations, which were lower in urban streams than in reference streams.