Hydrologic and Water Quality Modeling for Green Infrastructure

EPA Grant Number: R835142C003
Subproject: this is subproject number 003 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R835142
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Center for Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management
Center Director: Echols, Stuart Patton
Title: Hydrologic and Water Quality Modeling for Green Infrastructure
Investigators: Wagener, Thorsten , Clark, Shirley E , Echols, Stuart Patton , Ready, Richard C , Shortle, James S.
Institution: Pennsylvania State University
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: March 1, 2012 through February 28, 2017
RFA: Sustainable Chesapeake: A Collaborative Approach to Urban Stormwater Management (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Water and Watersheds , Sustainability , Water


Project 3 addresses the challenges in design and regulatory community standards to implementing green infrastructure and provides computer modeling tools to better predict receiving water impacts of both water quantity and quality. Flood control historically has been the focus of urban stormwater management because of the need to protect public health and safety. However, over the past four decades, studies of receiving waters have demonstrated substantial water quality degradation associated with urban runoff discharge to streams, lakes and groundwater. Therefore, appropriate urban stormwater management in the Chesapeake Bay Basin and beyond must address both flood control and water quality. Modeling has been used to predict the impacts of urban runoff and to evaluate the benefits of a variety of management techniques, such as detention, harvesting, etc., but these models have been limited in scope (peak flow calculation) and likely have not addressed both flooding and water quality. The increasing implications of climate and land cover change make many historical modeling approaches unsuitable for the assessment of long-term solutions.


The activities will address how stormwater management can be supported by state of the art modeling while considering institutional and technical barriers. The team will evaluate the current stormwater management practices in the Chesapeake Bay Basin for both flood control evaluation and for water quality management. The second project will expand the ability of an existing process-based, continuous hydrologic model for streamflow to address changes in both land-use and climate change, as well as other uncertainties present in hydrologic analysis. This hydrologic model has two advantages: (1) it can address directly the hydrologic benefits of stormwater management on the stream, and (2) it could be maintained by a regulatory authority and updated for new development to assess cumulative impacts. The third project focuses on water quality by using existing datasets (International BMP Database and the National Stormwater Quality Database) to calibrate unit-process treatment equations to predict treatability of stormwater pollutants and maintenance intervals. These equations then could be coupled with hydrologic models to predict water-quality as a function of storm event size, duration, and rainfall pattern.

Expected Results:

Outcomes include an improved understanding of the challenges to integrating water quality and flooding into site design, and improved tools (process-based hydrologic model and unit process-calibrated water quality models) for evaluating land use and climate changes to determine the effects of green infrastructure on receiving waters.

Supplemental Keywords:

Effects, effluent, discharge, public policy, decision making, environmental assets, monitoring, surveys, measurement methods, Mid-Atlantic

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R835142    Center for Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R835142C001 Decision Making – Cognitive and Institutional Barriers
    R835142C002 Green Infrastructure Design and Visualization
    R835142C003 Hydrologic and Water Quality Modeling for Green Infrastructure
    R835142C004 Non-Hydrological Benefits and Citizen Preference
    R835142C005 Public Engagement and Outreach