Articles | Volume 22, issue 5
Research article
03 May 2018
Research article |  | 03 May 2018

Drainage area characterization for evaluating green infrastructure using the Storm Water Management Model

Joong Gwang Lee, Christopher T. Nietch, and Srinivas Panguluri

Abstract. Urban stormwater runoff quantity and quality are strongly dependent upon catchment properties. Models are used to simulate the runoff characteristics, but the output from a stormwater management model is dependent on how the catchment area is subdivided and represented as spatial elements. For green infrastructure modeling, we suggest a discretization method that distinguishes directly connected impervious area (DCIA) from the total impervious area (TIA). Pervious buffers, which receive runoff from upgradient impervious areas should also be identified as a separate subset of the entire pervious area (PA). This separation provides an improved model representation of the runoff process. With these criteria in mind, an approach to spatial discretization for projects using the US Environmental Protection Agency's Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) is demonstrated for the Shayler Crossing watershed (SHC), a well-monitored, residential suburban area occupying 100 ha, east of Cincinnati, Ohio. The model relies on a highly resolved spatial database of urban land cover, stormwater drainage features, and topography. To verify the spatial discretization approach, a hypothetical analysis was conducted. Six different representations of a common urbanscape that discharges runoff to a single storm inlet were evaluated with eight 24 h synthetic storms. This analysis allowed us to select a discretization scheme that balances complexity in model setup with presumed accuracy of the output with respect to the most complex discretization option considered. The balanced approach delineates directly and indirectly connected impervious areas (ICIA), buffering pervious area (BPA) receiving impervious runoff, and the other pervious area within a SWMM subcatchment. It performed well at the watershed scale with minimal calibration effort (Nash–Sutcliffe coefficient  = 0.852; R2 = 0.871). The approach accommodates the distribution of runoff contributions from different spatial components and flow pathways that would impact green infrastructure performance. A developed SWMM model using the discretization approach is calibrated by adjusting parameters per land cover component, instead of per subcatchment and, therefore, can be applied to relatively large watersheds if the land cover components are relatively homogeneous and/or categorized appropriately in the GIS that supports the model parameterization. Finally, with a few model adjustments, we show how the simulated stream hydrograph can be separated into the relative contributions from different land cover types and subsurface sources, adding insight to the potential effectiveness of planned green infrastructure scenarios at the watershed scale.

Short summary
This paper demonstrates an approach to spatial discretization for analyzing green infrastructure (GI) using SWMM. Besides DCIA, pervious buffers should be identified for GI modeling. Runoff contributions from different spatial components and flow pathways would impact GI performance. The presented approach can reduce the number of calibration parameters and apply scale–independently to a watershed scale. Hydrograph separation can add insights for developing GI scenarios.