Trees and Streets as Drivers of Urban Stormwater Nutrient Pollution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Expansion of tree cover is a major management goal in cities because of the substantial benefits provided to people, and potentially to water quality through reduction of stormwater volume by interception. However, few studies have addressed the full range of potential impacts of trees on urban runoff, which includes deposition of nutrient-rich leaf litter onto streets connected to storm drains. We analyzed the influence of trees on stormwater nitrogen and phosphorus export across 19 urban watersheds in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, U.S.A., and at the scale of individual streets within one residential watershed. Stormwater nutrient concentrations were highly variable across watersheds and strongly related to tree canopy over streets, especially for phosphorus. Stormwater nutrient loads were primarily related to road density, the dominant control over runoff volume. Street canopy exerted opposing effects on loading, where elevated nutrient concentrations from trees near roads outweighed the weak influence of trees on runoff reduction. These results demonstrate that vegetation near streets contributes substantially to stormwater nutrient pollution, and therefore to eutrophication of urban surface waters. Urban landscape design and management that account for trees as nutrient pollution sources could improve water quality outcomes, while allowing cities to enjoy the myriad benefits of urban forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9569-9579
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume51
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 5 2017

Fingerprint

stormwater
Nutrients
Pollution
pollution
nutrient
Watersheds
Runoff
Phosphorus
watershed
Water quality
runoff
canopy
Eutrophication
road
phosphorus
water quality
Surface waters
interception
pollutant source
leaf litter

Cite this

Trees and Streets as Drivers of Urban Stormwater Nutrient Pollution. / Janke, Ben D; Finlay, Jacques C; Hobbie, Sarah E.

In: Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 51, No. 17, 05.09.2017, p. 9569-9579.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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