Approaches for Assessing Flows, Concentrations, and Loads of Highway and Urban Runoff and Receiving-Stream Stormwater in Southern New England with the Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM)

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Scientific Investigations Report

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Published in: Scientific Investigations Report, 2023-5087.


The Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) was designed to help quantify the risk of adverse effects of runoff on receiving waters, the potential need for mitigation measures, and the potential effectiveness of such management measures for reducing these risks. SELDM is calibrated using representative hydrological and water-quality input statistics. This report by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island Departments of Transportation, documents approaches for assessing flows, concentrations, and loads of highway- and urban-runoff and receiving-stream stormwater in southern New England with SELDM. In this report, the term “urban runoff” is used to identify stormwater flows from developed areas with impervious fractions ranging from 10 to 100 percent without regard to the U.S. Census Bureau designation for any given location. There are more than 48,000 delineated road-stream crossings in southern New England, but because there are relatively few precipitation, streamflow, and water-quality monitoring sites in this area, methods were needed to simulate conditions at unmonitored sites. This report documents simulation methods, methods for interpreting stochastic model results, sensitivity analyses to identify the most critical variables of concern, and examples demonstrating how simulation results can be used to inform scientific decision-making processes. Results of 7,511 SELDM simulations were used to do the sensitivity analyses and provide information decisionmakers can use to address runoff-quality issues in southern New England and other areas of the Nation.