FOREST COVER, IMPERVIOUS-SURFACE AREA, AND THE MITIGATION OF STORMWATER IMPACTS1

Authors

  • Derek B. Booth,

  • David Hartley,

  • Rhett Jackson

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      Respectively, Research Associate Professor, Center for Urban Water Resources Management, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 98195–2700; Senior Hydrologist, King County Water and Land Resources Division, 201 South Jackson Street, Suite 600, Seattle, Washington 98104–3855; and Associate Professor, Daniel B. Warnell School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602–2152 (E-Mail/Booth: dbooth@u.washington.edu).


  • 1

    Paper No. 01124 of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.Discussions are open until February 1, 2003.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: For 20 years, King County, Washington, has implemented progressively more demanding structural and nonstructural strategies in an attempt to protect aquatic resources and declining salmon populations from the cumulative effects of urbanization. This history holds lessons for planners, engineers, and resource managers throughout other urbanizing regions. Detention ponds, even with increasingly restrictive designs, have still proven inadequate to prevent channel erosion. Costly structural retrofits of urbanized watersheds can mitigate certain problems, such as flooding or erosion, but cannot restore the predevelopment flow regime or habitat conditions. Widespread conversion of forest to pasture or grass in rural areas, generally unregulated by most jurisdictions, degrades aquatic systems even when watershed imperviousness remains low. Preservation of aquatic resources in developing areas will require integrated mitigation, which must including impervious-surface limits, forest-retention policies, stormwater detention, riparian-buffer maintenance, and protection of wetlands and unstable slopes. New management goals are needed for those watersheds whose existing development precludes significant ecosystem recovery; the same goals cannot be achieved in both developed and undeveloped watersheds.

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