State Water Resources Research Institute Program (WRRI)

Details for Project ID 2014IN377G, 2014

Can there ever be enough? Analysis of the adoption, penetration and effectiveness of urban stormwater best management practices

Institute: Indiana
USGS Grant Number: G14AP00170
Start Date: 2014-09-01 End Date: 2017-08-31
Total Federal Funds: $246,254 Total Non-Federal Funds: $246,324

Principal Investigators: Laura Bowling, Linda Prokopy

Abstract: This proposal addresses a need to improve and enhance the nation’s water supply through evaluation of what limits adoption of urban stormwater conservation practices. While agricultural systems have utilized Best Management Practices to reduce pollution for a number of years, work on urban stormwater management is lacking. The West Lafayette-Lafayette communities spanning the banks of the Wabash River in north central Indiana have a combined population of over 215,000 people. Like many similar sized communities across the country, the region is struggling to deal with increasing stormwater impacts on water quality. Urban streams are among those with the lowest water quality in the country. Improvements to stormwater conveyance and treatment infrastructure alone cannot resolve the problem. Stormwater conservation practices, such as rain gardens, rain barrels and permeable pavement offer the potential of decreasing stormwater volumes and reducing water quality impacts, but their utilization is generally lower than their agricultural counterparts. Poor penetration is attributed to several reasons, including more numerous landowners with less property, a limited number of cost incentive programs and fewer formal public education programs than found in the agricultural community. Secondly, there is little demonstrated ability to show watershed-scale water quality improvement due to BMP implementation in urban environments, which is a function of both the needed intensity of BMP implementation to enact a desired change, as well as the statistical design of a monitoring program that can detect the expected rates of change. The goal of this proposed work is to improve water quality planning and implementation through recommendations to improve the overall adoption, penetration and permanence of urban stormwater BMPs. This will be achieved by: 1) Evaluating the level of adoption and intensity and duration of sampling needed to demonstrate statistically significant water quality change; 2) Assessing factors influencing practice adoption, penetration and permanence; and 3) Developing watershed management planning strategies for achieving urban water quality goals. Our research approach blendsstatistical analysis with social science techniques to determine 1) how many BMPs do we need? and 2) how can we get them in the watershed?