Get access

Stormwater Runoff Quality and Quantity From Traditional and Low Impact Development Watersheds1


  • 1

    Paper No. JAWRA-07-0159-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.



Abstract:  The quality and quantity of residential stormwater runoff from a control, traditional, and low impact development (LID) watershed were compared in a paired watershed study. A traditional neighborhood was built using typical subdivision standards while a LID design was constructed with best management practices including grass swales, cluster housing, shared driveways, rain gardens, and a narrower pervious concrete-paver road. Weekly, flow-weighted, composite samples of stormwater were analyzed for nitrate + nitrite-nitrogen (NO3 + NO2-N), ammonia-nitrogen (NH3-N), total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), total phosphorus (TP), and total suspended solids (TSS). Monthly composite samples were analyzed for total copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn). Mean weekly storm flow increased (600x) from the traditional watershed in the postconstruction period. Increased exports of TKN, NO3 + NO2-N, NH3-N, TP, Cu, Zn, and TSS in runoff were associated with the increased storm flow. Postconstruction storm flow in the LID watershed was reduced by 42% while peak discharge did not change from preconstruction conditions. Exports were reduced from the LID watershed for NH3-N, TKN, Pb, and Zn, while TSS and TP exports increased.