Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Roy, A.H., A.L. Mayer, W.D. Shuster, H.W. Thurston, N.T. Hoagland, M.P. Clagett, P.K. Parikh, and M.A. Taylor. 2005. A multidisciplinary approach to stormwater management at the watershed scale. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Urban Drainage, August 21-26, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Stormwater runoff from extensive impervious surfaces in urban and suburban areas has led to human safety risks and stream ecosystem impairment, triggering an interest in watershed-scale retrofit stormwater management. Such stormwater management is of multidisciplinary relevance, posing legal, social, economic, hydrologic, and ecological challenges and constraints. A multidisciplinary approach to stormwater management is being tested in the Shepherd Creek watershed, a 20 km^2 residential and forested watershed in Cincinnati, OH (USA). An assessment of the total impervious area (TIA) revealed that a majority (50–72%) of TIA in sub-watersheds is in rooftops and driveways, so we decided to use parcel-level best management practices (BMPs) in the form of rain barrels and rain gardens to mitigate stormwater runoff. To abide by laws concerning stormwater, a voluntary economic auction approach will be used to distribute BMPs and evaluate landowners’ willingness-to-accept BMPs on their property in exchange for financial compensation. The hydrologic and ecologic responses to retrofit stormwater BMPs will be tested using a before-after-control-impact design, where the “impact” is the installation of BMPs. This research suggests a policy prescription for retrofit management of stormwater quantity that is, if not ideal in one discipline, at least sound in all disciplines.