Water Resources Management

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 213–228 | Cite as

Variable Streamflow Contributions in Nested Subwatersheds of a US Midwestern Urban Watershed

  • Liang WeiEmail author
  • Jason A. Hubbart
  • Hang Zhou


Quantification of runoff is critical to estimate and control water pollution in urban regions, but variation in impervious area and land-use type can complicate the quantification of runoff. We quantified the streamflow contributions of subwatersheds and the historical changes in streamflow in a flood prone urbanizing watershed in US Midwest to guide the establishment of a future pollution-control plan. Streamflow data from five nested hydrological stations enabled accurate estimations of streamflow contribution from five subwatersheds with variable impervious areas (from 0.5% to 26.6%). We corrected the impact of Missouri river backwatering at the most downstream station by comparing its streamflow with an upstream station using double-mass analysis combined with Bernaola-Galvan Heuristic Segmentation approach. We also compared the streamflow of the urbanizing watershed with seven surrounding rural watersheds to estimate the cumulative impact of urbanization on the streamflow regime. The two most urbanized subwatersheds contributed >365 mm streamflow in 2012 with 657 mm precipitation, which was more than fourfold greater than the two least urbanized subwatersheds. Runoff occurred almost exclusively over the most urbanized subwatersheds during the dry period. The frequent floods occurred and the same amount of precipitation produced ~100 mm more streamflow in 2008–2014 than 1967–1980 in the urbanizing watershed; such phenomena did not occur in surrounding rural watersheds. Our approaches provide comprehensive information for planning on runoff control and pollutant reduction in urban watersheds.


Nested watersheds Double-mass analysis Urban stream syndrome Backwater Bernaola-Galvan heuristic segmentation 



Special thanks to scientists of the Interdisciplinary Hydrology Laboratory (


Funding was provided by joint agreement of the University of Missouri, the City of Columbia, and Boone County Public works as per the Hinkson Creek Collaborative Adaptive Management (CAM) program. Other funding was provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (P.N: G08-NPS-17) under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, and Los Alamos National Laboratory LDRD program. Results presented may not reflect the views of the sponsors and no official endorsement should be inferred.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

None declared.

Supplementary material

11269_2017_1804_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 2040 kb)


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Copyright information

© © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ForestryUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Earth and Environmental Sciences DivisionLos Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA
  3. 3.Davis College, Schools of Agriculture and Food, and Natural ResourcesWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Water Security and ScienceWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  5. 5.Department of GeographyUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA

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