Environmental Management

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 604–618

Characterizing the Effects of Stormwater Mitigation on Nutrient Export and Stream Concentrations

  • Colin D. Bell
  • Sara K. McMillan
  • Sandra M. Clinton
  • Anne J. Jefferson

DOI: 10.1007/s00267-016-0801-4

Cite this article as:
Bell, C.D., McMillan, S.K., Clinton, S.M. et al. Environmental Management (2017) 59: 604. doi:10.1007/s00267-016-0801-4


Urbanization increases nutrient loading and lowers residence times for processing of reactive solutes, including nitrate, total dissolved nitrogen, orthophosphate, and dissolved organic carbon), which leads to increased stream concentrations and mass export. Stormwater control measures mitigate the impacts of urbanization, and have the potential to improve stream water quality, however the net effect instream is not well understood. We monitored two urban and two suburban watersheds in Charlotte, NC to determine if mitigation controlled the fraction of total mass export during storm, if development classification as either urban or suburban (defined by the age, density and distribution of urban development) controlled storm nutrient and carbon dynamics, and if stormwater control measures were able to change stream water chemistry. While average concentrations during stormflow were generally greater than baseflow, indicating that storms are important times of solute export, the fraction of storm-derived export was unrelated to mitigation by stormwater control measures. Development classification was generally not an important control on export of N and dissolved organic carbon. However, event mean concentrations of orthophosphate were higher at the suburban sites, possibly from greater fertilizer application. Stormwater control measures influenced instream water chemistry at only one site, which also had the greatest mitigated area, but differences between stormwater control measure outflow and stream water suggest the potential for water quality improvements. Together, results suggest stormwater control measures have the potential to decrease solute concentrations from urban runoff, but the type, location, and extent of urban development in the watershed may influence the magnitude of this effect.


Water quality Best management practices Stormwater management 

Supplementary material

267_2016_801_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Supplementary Information

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
National Science Foundation
  • CBET-1034043

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Biological EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Earth SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeologyKent State UniversityKentUSA

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