Authors: Gregory D. Mueller and Anita M. Thompson
Abstract: Runoff from urban catchments depends largely on the amount of impervious surface and the connectivity of these surfaces to the storm sewer drainage system. In residential areas, pervious lawns can be used
to help manage stormwater runoff by intercepting and infiltrating runoff from impervious surfaces. The goal of this research was to develop and evaluate a simple method for estimating the reduction in stormwater runoff
that results when runoff from an impervious surface (e.g., rooftop) is directed onto a pervious surface (e.g., lawn). Fifty-two stormwater runoff reduction tests were conducted on six residential lawns in Madison, Wisconsin
during the summer of 2004. An infiltration-loss model that requires inputs of steady-state infiltration rate, abstraction (defined here as surface storage, vegetation interception and cumulative total infiltration minus steady-state infiltration during the period prior to steady-state), and inundated area was evaluated using experimental
data. The most accurate results were obtained using the observed steady-state infiltration rates and inundated areas for each test, combined with a constant abstraction for all tests [root mean squared (RMS) difference = 1.0 cm]. A second case utilized lawn-averaged steady-state infiltration rates, a regression estimate of
inundated area based on flow-path length, and lawn-specific abstractions based on infiltration rate (RMS difference = 2.2 cm). In practice, infiltration rates will likely be determined using double-ring infiltration measurements
(RMS difference = 3.1 cm) or soil texture (RMS difference = 5.7 cm). A generalized form of the model is presented and used to estimate annual stormwater runoff volume reductions for Madison. Results indicate the usefulness of urban lawns as a stormwater management practice and could be used to improve urban runoff models that incorporate indirectly connected impervious areas.