Water Quality Impacts of Riparian Buffers

EPA Grant Number: U915555
Title: Water Quality Impacts of Riparian Buffers
Investigators: Wynn, Theresa M.
Institution: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: August 1, 1999 through August 1, 2002
Project Amount: $87,923
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Engineering and Environmental Chemistry , Fellowship - Engineering


The objectives of this research project are to: (1) compare the effectiveness of forested and grassed riparian buffers in reducing sediment in stormwater runoff; (2) determine the relative contribution of channel erosion to total sediment yield in small watersheds with forested and grassed riparian buffers; and (3) develop a methodology that can be used to evaluate and predict water quality improvements from riparian buffers at the watershed scale.


Two sites in two or three small watersheds will be identified as study sites to evaluate the impacts of riparian buffers on water quality. Sediment concentrations in storm runoff and the effects of vegetation type on streambank stability will be quantified. One site will be a predominately grass buffer, and the other site will be a predominately forested buffer. To completely quantify watershed sediment yield, suspended sediment and bedload will be sampled instream, and topographic surveys of the stream channels will be conducted. Various statistical procedures will be used to analyze the collected data and to evaluate the impact of buffer zones on streambank erosion and sediment yield.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, sediment yield, riparian buffer, watershed management, channel erosion.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • 2001
  • Final