Modeling Changes in the Spatial Distribution of Soil Saturation in Urbanizing Watersheds
Goodwin, Craig N.
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The focus of urban hydrology has traditionally been upon flood-event runoff and the management of storm water. However, the impervious cover that is an element of urbanization can also cause diminished soil moisture levels and lower base flows due to less recharge to a watershed’s near-surface groundwater system. Presented here is a modeling approach for examining urbanization-related changes in soil moisture levels. This approach employs a TOPMODEL-like topographic index that is implemented using a spatially distributed watershed representation within a geographic information system. Using the model, the changes resulting from urban development upon the extent of the saturation zone in a small, north Georgia watershed are simulated. Based upon model results, residential development of a forested watershed is shown to result in a 15 percent decrease in saturated watershed area.