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Simulation of watershed-scale practices for mitigating stream thermal pollution due to urbanization.

08:00 EDT 19th March 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Simulation of watershed-scale practices for mitigating stream thermal pollution due to urbanization."

Thermally enriched runoff from urban impervious surfaces can be harmful to aquatic life; however, only limited information is available on how to mitigate these impacts at the watershed-scale. This study evaluates the effects of retrofitting an urban watershed with thermal mitigation practices (TMPs) relative to thermal toxicity thresholds for aquatic species. The Minnesota Urban Heat Export Tool (MINUHET) and Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) models were used to evaluate TMPs that help reduce temperature and total heat loads (THL) from the Stroubles Creek watershed in Blacksburg, Virginia. We used the aquatic health criteria for brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), the most sensitive species present downstream of the watershed, as a performance measure. TMPs included bioretention systems, methods for reducing the albedo of surfaces (cool surfaces), and increasing forest canopy. Performance metrics included Event Mean Temperature (EMT), and the Percentage of Time Temperature Exceeded the 21 °C Acute Toxicity Threshold [Percentage of Time above the Threshold (PTAT)] for brook trout; these metrics were used to quantify reductions in heat loads and temperatures. TMPs were evaluated during continuous simulation and selected storm events. Increased forest canopy alone produced the greatest reduction of stream temperature, as quantified by EMT and PTAT metrics during continuous and event-based simulations. In contrast, cool surfaces reduced THL more than any other individual TMP for the continuous simulation. A comprehensive mitigation plan (CMP) integrating all three TMPs reduced THL by 62.3%, and PTAT by approximately 12%, for the entire summer of 2015. The CMP was also applied to select storm events, during which streamflow EMT was reduced up to 9%, and PTAT was reduced nearly to zero. This study, which is the first to simulate watershed-scale TMPs for a large, complex urban area, demonstrates the application of appropriate strategies for restoring aquatic habitats in the thermally impacted Stroubles Creek.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: The Science of the total environment
ISSN: 1879-1026
Pages: 215-231

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