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Article

Effects of Hillslope Trenching on Surface Water Infiltration in Subalpine Forested Catchments

1
Department of Geography, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
2
Department of Geography and The Environment & LLILAS-Benson, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78748, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Michael Piasecki
Hydrology 2021, 8(4), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology8040147
Received: 6 September 2021 / Revised: 21 September 2021 / Accepted: 28 September 2021 / Published: 30 September 2021
Concerns over freshwater scarcity for agriculture, ecosystems, and human consumption are driving the construction of infiltration trenches in many mountain protected areas. This study examines the effectiveness of infiltration trenches in a subalpine forested catchment in central Mexico, where public and private organizations have been constructing trenches for ~60 years. We rely on empirical data to develop rainfall-runoff models for two scenarios: a baseline (no trenches) and a trenched scenario. Field measurements of infiltration capacities in forested and trenched soils (n = 56) and two years of meteorological data are integrated into a semi-distributed runoff model of 28 trenched sub-catchments. Sensitivity analysis and hydrographs are used to evaluate differences in total runoff and infiltration between the two scenarios. Multiple logistic regression is used to evaluate the effects of environmental and management variables on the likelihood of runoff response and trench overtopping. The findings show that soil infiltration capacity and rainfall intensity are primary drivers of runoff and trench overtopping. However, trenches provided only a 1.2% increase in total infiltration over the two-year period. This marginal benefit is discussed in relation to the potential adverse environmental impacts of trench construction. Overall, our study finds that as a means of runoff harvesting in these forested catchments, trenches provide negligible infiltration benefits. As a result, this study cautions against further construction of infiltration trenches in forested catchments without careful ex ante assessment of rainfall-runoff relationships. The results of this study have important implications for forest water management in Mexico and elsewhere, where similar earthworks are employed to enhance runoff harvesting and surface water infiltration. View Full-Text
Keywords: water harvesting; conservation; infiltration excess overland flow; mountain protected areas; runoff mitigation water harvesting; conservation; infiltration excess overland flow; mountain protected areas; runoff mitigation
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MDPI and ACS Style

LaFevor, M.C.; Ramos-Scharrón, C.E. Effects of Hillslope Trenching on Surface Water Infiltration in Subalpine Forested Catchments. Hydrology 2021, 8, 147. https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology8040147

AMA Style

LaFevor MC, Ramos-Scharrón CE. Effects of Hillslope Trenching on Surface Water Infiltration in Subalpine Forested Catchments. Hydrology. 2021; 8(4):147. https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology8040147

Chicago/Turabian Style

LaFevor, Matthew C., and Carlos E. Ramos-Scharrón. 2021. "Effects of Hillslope Trenching on Surface Water Infiltration in Subalpine Forested Catchments" Hydrology 8, no. 4: 147. https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology8040147

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