Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2012VT65B

Evaluating effectiveness of BMP implementation on gravel roads to reduce sediment and phosphorus runoff

Institute: Vermont
Year Established: 2012 Start Date: 2012-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $52,203 Total Non-Federal Funds: $135,203

Principal Investigators: Beverley Wemple, Donald Ross

Abstract: Gravel roads in rural settings can adversely affect water quality through the contribution of excess runoff, sediment and sediment-bound nutrients to receiving waters. These contributions can occur through chronic wash off from the road surface and through catastrophic gullying and road bed failure during extreme storms. To mitigate the adverse effects of roads on water quality, a number of Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been developed and tested in diverse settings. Although these practices appear to reduce erosion and mass wasting from roads, evidence of the benefit of any single BMP on pollutant reduction is limited, and studies quantifying these reductions for in rural Vermont do not exist. We will partner with the Vermont Better Backroads Program to identify candidate sites and install a suite of BMPs that are included in recent statewide directives for implementation on gravel roads. Using a paired-site design, we will leverage an existing dataset and monitor both treated (BMP sites) and untreated controls throughout the term of this project. Results from the project will provide guidance on pollutant reduction potential of these management practices, a key need of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The proposed research will also provide a framework for developing a cost-benefit strategy for targeting future BMP implementation.