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Keywords:

  • BMP effectiveness;
  • nonpoint source pollution;
  • optimization;
  • SWAT;
  • simulation

Abstract: For a number of years, best management practices (BMPs) have been implemented within the Town Brook watershed as part of a watershed wide effort to reduce phosphorus losses to the New York City water supply reservoirs. Currently, there are no quantitative indications of the effectiveness of these practices at the watershed scale. Additionally, work is needed to evaluate management practice solutions for costs in relation to effectiveness. In this study we develop a methodology for evaluating management solutions to determine the best way(s) to select and place management practices so that pollutant removal targets are met at minimum cost. The study combines phosphorus losses as simulated by the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), management practice effectiveness estimates from a predeveloped characterization tool, and practice costs in optimizations using a genetic algorithm. For a user defined target phosphorus removal (60 percent for this study), optimization favors nutrient management plans, crop rotations, contour strip cropping, and riparian forest buffers; the most cost effective scenario achieves a cost effectiveness of 24/kg phosphorus removal per year compared to the 34/kg phosphorus removal per year associated with the current basic implementation scheme. The study suggests that there is a need to evaluate potential solutions prior to implementation and offers a means of generating and evaluating the solutions.