The long-term development of a watershed: spatial patterns, streamflow, and sustainability
DeFee, Buren Brooks, II
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This study examines the relationship between the developing landscape and the water flowing through it. The study area was an 86 sq. mi. watershed located in the coastal plains in Harris County, Texas. Daily streamflow data for 52 years was obtained from USGS and coincident precipitation data was obtained from NOAA. Georeferenced parcel-level data was obtained from the Harris County Appraisal District with sufficient detail to determine year of development, parcel area, and impervious cover. Watershed boundaries were obtained from the Harris County Flood Control District. After controlling for daily precipitation, streamflow exhibited significant increases at all levels over time. Increasing streamflow was not associated with climate change. FRAGSTATS was used to quantify spatial patterns in the developed landscape on an annual basis. Regression analysis was used to determine the relationship between spatial and non-spatial measures of development and streamflow. It was found that models based on the spatial configuration of the developed landscape predict streamflow better than non-spatial measures such as total impervious cover. Several metrics were identified for their potential use as guidelines for urban planning.