Office of Research and Development Publications



Jarnagin, S. T. AND D. B. Jennings. COLLABORATIVE HYDROLOGIC RESEARCH IN THE CLARKSBURG SPECIAL PROTECTION AREA. Presented at Maryland Water Monitoring Council Workshop on Integrated Hydrologic Monitoring, Baltimore, MD, August 30, 2004.


This research project is focused on the Clarksburg Special Protection Area (CSPA) in Montgomery County, Maryland. The CSPA subwatersheds are on the outer edge of the urban development shockwave expanding outward from the Washington DC metropolitan area. This is an area of rapid development that we expect will be built out within the next five to ten years. The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been monitoring stream biology and chemistry in the area streams and the CSPA involves special best management practices (BMPs) that are designed to limit the impact of development on water resources.

This research is an example of a Federal-Local technology-transfer partnership where innovative technologies are researched at the Federal level and the results made available at a local level for neighborhood solutions. This research is a collaborative effort where local stakeholders are involved setting research goals and Federal agencies are involved offering expertise and capabilities not available at the local level.

Our primary research goal is to map the development as it occurs; both the anthropogenic surface structures such as roads, buildings, parking lots, and changes in surface topography associated with urbanization and the subsurface storm sewer network; and to monitor the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of the associated water resources as that development happens. Changes in streamflow and biological and chemical parameters of the CSPA water resources (or the lack thereof) will be correlated with development patterns, anthropogenic alterations of the environment, and the BMPs designed to mitigate the impacts of development. We have already obtained a LIDAR overflight of the study area (Figure 2) that greatly increases the spatial resolution of the topographical analyses possible in the CSPA. Future LIDAR collections will be used to determine if this technology can be used to map changes in stream morphology associated with development as well as to assist in the hydrological modeling and surface mapping of that development. Our research is intended to assess the effectiveness of BMPs by employing both positive and negative controls (stream gauges and monitoring in areas without development and areas developed without the CSPA BMPs) as well as pre- and post development data from areas gauged prior to development within the CSPA.


Overarching Objectives and Links to Multi-year Planning

This research directly supports long-term goals established in ORD's multi-year research plans related to GPRA Goal 2 (Water Quality) and Long Term Goal WQ-2 Assessment of aquatic systems impairment. Relative to the GRPA Goal 2 Water Quality multi-year plan, this research will "provide tools to assess and diagnose impairment in aquatic systems and the sources of associated stressors" and "provide the tools to restore and protect aquatic ecosystems and to forecast the ecological, economic, and human health outcomes of alternative solutions" (Water Quality Long Term Research Goals 2 and 3).

Subtask 1 - Impervious Surface Evaluation

This subtask addresses the development of impervious surfaces estimators for local to regional scale assessments of watersheds and their landscape relationship to stream ecology. The amount of impervious surface area in a watershed is a key indicator of landscape change. As a single variable, it serves to integrate a number of concurrent interactions that directly influence a watershed's hydrology, stream chemical quality, and in-stream habitat. It is our working hypothesis that impervious surface area within a watershed, as an independently mapped predictor variable, can be used to generally track a range of watershed ecological parameters (e.g., NPS pollution, biological integrity, TMDLs) that are of concern to local, state and federal environmental managers. The specific objectives of this research are: 1) to quantitatively evaluate the varying remote sensing methods used in mapping impervious surfaces at multiple scales (local to regional), and 2) to relate the varying levels of impervious surface area in watersheds to the environmental condition of multiple water resource endpoints such as streamflow, temperature, and biota.

Subtask 2 -- Landscape Assessments and Evaluations of Best Management Practices: Watershed Demonstrations

Best Management Practices (BMP) encompass a range of strategies to reduce water pollution related to urban and agricultural activities. EPA, through Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act [PL 92-500], provides grants to states to implement BMPs in areas with suspected or known water-quality problems. Grants for implementation of BMPs have not been tracked or monitored to document their effectiveness. Although effectiveness can be measured in many different ways, one straightforward but important measure is existence. Implementation of BMPs is a voluntary process and actual implementation is not always executed (Nowak 1992). The primary objective of this project is to assess the feasibility of using high-resolution aerial photography and other remotely sensed data to identify the existence of BMPs that were planned under the 319 program. An additional objective is to evaluate the effectives of BMPs implemented by examining monitoring data from about 5 sites in the OW National NPS monitoring system.

There are several potential benefits to determining the feasibility of using the aerial photography for identifying BMPs: 1) since BMP implementation is voluntary and some may not be implemented due to a variety of social and economic factors (Nowak 1992), remote detection of BMPs can provide data to estimate the ratio of BMPs implemented to BMPs planned; 2) remote detection of BMPs provides validation data that can be input into EPA's Grants Reporting and Tracking System (GRTS), and 3) remote monitoring of BMPs over time could be used to develop data on BMP lifespans, providing important data related to social- and cost-effectiveness.

Subtask 3 -- TMDL Non-point Source Assessment Tool

This subtask involves the development of a software tool to assess the potential risks of water bodies to exceed TMDL threshold values established by States. When completed, the tool will allow the user to evaluate watersheds over entire regions. The too

Record Details:

Start Date: 08/30/2004
Completion Date: 08/30/2004
Record Last Revised: 06/06/2005
Record Created: 09/10/2004
Record Released: 09/10/2004
Record ID: 86012