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Impacts of transportation infrastructure on storm water and surfaces waters in Chittenden County, Vermont, USA.
  • Published Date:
    2014-06-01
  • Language:
    English
Filetype[PDF-1.87 MB]


Details:
  • Report Number:
    14-013
  • Resource Type:
  • Geographical Coverage:
  • Format:
  • Description:
    Transportation infrastructure is a major source of stormwater runoff that can alter hydrology and

    contribute significant loading of nutrients, sediment, and other pollutants to surface waters. These

    increased loads can contribute to impairment of streams in developed areas and ultimately to Lake

    Champlain. In this study we selected six watersheds that represent a range of road types (gravel and

    paved) and road densities (rural, suburban, and urban) present in Chittenden County, one of the most

    developed areas in Vermont. The location and density of road networks were characterized and quantified

    for each watershed using GIS analysis. Monitoring stations in each watershed were constructed and

    instrumented to measure discharge and water quality parameters continuously from spring through early

    winter. Storm event composite samples and monthly water chemistry grab samples were collected and

    analyzed for total nutrients, chloride, and total suspended sediments. Results from this study show that

    road type and road density are closely linked with the level of impairment in each watershed. Total

    phosphorus and total nitrogen from storm event composite samples and monthly grab samples

    significantly increased along a gradient of increasing road network density. Chloride concentrations

    increased several orders of magnitude along this same gradient. With the exception of Alder brook where

    total suspended sediment (TSS) concentrations tended to be high, there were no significant differences

    in TSS concentrations between rural and developed watersheds. The event TSS concentrations in the rural

    streams were slightly higher than we expected and the event and base TSS concentrations in the

    developed streams were somewhat lower than we expected, suggesting that the unpaved roads in the

    rural watersheds might contribute to stormwater runoff loads and that sediment control, at least, in the

    developed watersheds might be fairly effective. The overall results from this study show that local roads

    are significant source of impairment for streams in the Chittenden County area. Most of these roads are

    municipal roads that are not under to management of the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Thus, local

    actions will be necessary to control runoff from these roads.

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