The United States has witnessed various extreme land use changes over the years. These changes led to alterations in watersheds’ characteristics, impacting their water quality and quantity. To quantify this impact in highly urbanized watersheds such as the Chicago Metropolitan Area, it is crucial to examine the characteristics and imperviousness distribution of urban land uses and available point and non-point sources. In this paper, the effect of urban runoff and nutrient loadings to water bodies in the Chicago River Watershed resulting from level (III) detailed urban land uses is investigated. A watershed scale hydrologic and water quality simulation using BASINS/HSPF model was developed for the highly urbanized watershed. Appropriate considerations were given to the effective impervious area (EIA). The results from the five-year calibrated water quality simulation were reasonably reflected with observed data in the study area and nutrient loadings of both point and non-point sources for 44 different land uses were found. The export coefficients (EC) values obtained are site-specific depending on conditions and variables at the watershed level such as physical characteristics, land use management practices, hydro-meteorological and topographical data, while using a continuous simulation approach and watershed perspective analysis. This is the first attempt to measure and model nutrients’ loadings using detailed land use types in the Chicago River Watershed. The proposed continuous calibrated and validated model can be used in the investigation and analysis of different scenarios and possible future conditions and land utilization.
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