A Variety of Paths—New Ways to Look at the Urban Watershed Continuum

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Urban Water Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 September 2024 | Viewed by 2629

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Geography & Environmental Systems, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA
Interests: urban forestry and ecology; stormwater engineering; ecohydrology; stream biogeochemistry and ecology; citizen science
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Geology & Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
Interests: biogeochemistry; ecohydrology; geochemistry
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The watershed approach has been a powerful tool for ecosystem ecology research for over 50 years. The present interest in green infrastructure and other nature-based solutions for addressing environmental problems suggests a need to update the watershed approach by viewing urban watersheds as true ecohydrological systems that function in an engineered, three-dimensional system.  This would enable a comprehensive merging of the engineered matrix with what we know about how the natural world works.  For example, bioretention is a popular treatment for stormwater runoff that can achieve many current regulatory goals; however, we need to know much more about the role of the biology and ecology of these systems to increase their efficiency and sustainability while creating an environment conducive to both residents and wildlife.

Against this broad and deep ecohydrological urban frontier, we are seeking paper submissions (research, review, modeling, or management) that can improve our ability to understand the flow of water and its organisms and constituents through the human and biological systems of urban landscapes.  For example, for trees and other plants, the process of transpiration is important to their function and survival.  However, the “urban forest” also has many human dimensions. People need to make decisions regarding their existence/care and part of this has to do with their feelings related to nature and trees.

Dr. Kenneth T. Belt
Prof. Dr. Sujay S. Kaushal
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • urban hydrology
  • ecohydrology
  • socio-ecological-technical systems
  • aquatic ecology
  • environmental art/history
  • groundwater ecology
  • hyporheic zone
  • biofilms
  • stream restoration
  • buried streams and daylighting

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 17790 KiB  
Article
Ponds and Wetlands Landscapes of Flood Management in the Cities of the Lower Yellow River Floodplain—The Case of Huaiyang, China
by Lei Zhang and G. Mathias Kondolf
Water 2024, 16(5), 703; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16050703 - 28 Feb 2024
Viewed by 599
Abstract
As interest has increased in green infrastructure and nature-based solutions, traditional approaches to managing landscapes have emerged as providing useful models for sustainable water and land management. From local gazetteers, archives, oral histories, maps, and satellite images, we documented the historical landscapes of [...] Read more.
As interest has increased in green infrastructure and nature-based solutions, traditional approaches to managing landscapes have emerged as providing useful models for sustainable water and land management. From local gazetteers, archives, oral histories, maps, and satellite images, we documented the historical landscapes of ponds and wetlands back to the 17th century in the historic city of Huaiyang on the lower Yellow River floodplain. Like neighboring cities, Huaiyang was protected by a ring levee. As the floodplain rapidly aggraded, cities within the levee became topographically lower than the surrounding landscape. In this context, ponds and wetlands were essential for flood and storm water retention in the low-lying city. These seasonal waterbodies alternated between drying and wetting, providing a dynamic and diverse background for native habitats and human uses. CORONA satellite images ca. 1960s show ponds and wetlands shrinking in the dry season to 35.6% of their wet season extent, while the farmed area expanded 5.3 times. The multiple uses of wetlands included dry-season farming, harvesting wetland plants, and fishing, each use adapted to the localized topographic and hydrologic conditions of the wetlands. The late 20th century saw massive transformations for modern agriculture and urbanization. Understanding the historical evolution of this landscape can provide inspiration for developing green infrastructure and resilient designs that preserve cultural diversity and sustainably manage water in an urbanizing landscape. Full article
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23 pages, 12761 KiB  
Article
The Social Fabric of Watershed Management: Comparison of Citizen-Based and Agency-Based Organizations
by Sung-woo Cho, Shorna B. Allred and Richard Stedman
Water 2024, 16(1), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16010111 - 27 Dec 2023
Viewed by 831
Abstract
This research offers an exploration of the social networks within two distinct watershed groups in the Hudson River, New York State, USA: citizen-based and agency-based organizations. Through a social network analysis of their operations and interactions, this study unveils the complex dynamics and [...] Read more.
This research offers an exploration of the social networks within two distinct watershed groups in the Hudson River, New York State, USA: citizen-based and agency-based organizations. Through a social network analysis of their operations and interactions, this study unveils the complex dynamics and roles of individual nodes in facilitating nine types of connections, such as political and financial, within these networks. The citizen-based organization demonstrated denser and more cohesive networks, suggesting robust relationships and enhanced resilience and adaptability. In contrast, the agency-based organization exhibited more hierarchical networks. This study employs both network-level and node-level analyses to examine the social networks within watershed groups. Our network-level analysis focuses on metrics such as density, average degree, and hierarchy, while our node-level analysis examines clustering coefficients and influence. It also explores ego networks through an analysis of their density and the effective size of structural holes. Our finding is that the social networks of the two groups are quite distinct, and there is limited exchange of information and resources between them. However, we discovered that effective communication among a few well-connected individuals (e.g., those with high influence values) within each group can enhance the effectiveness and resilience of these networks. These analyses aim to provide a detailed understanding of the social dynamics within regional watershed groups. Full article
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22 pages, 5514 KiB  
Article
Freshwater Salinization Syndrome Alters Nitrogen Transport in Urban Watersheds
by Joseph G. Galella, Sujay S. Kaushal, Paul M. Mayer, Carly M. Maas, Ruth R. Shatkay, Shreeram Inamdar and Kenneth T. Belt
Water 2023, 15(22), 3956; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15223956 - 14 Nov 2023
Viewed by 987
Abstract
Anthropogenic salt inputs have impacted many streams in the U.S. for over a century. Urban stream salinity is often chronically elevated and punctuated by episodic salinization events, which can last hours to days after snowstorms and the application of road salt. Here, we [...] Read more.
Anthropogenic salt inputs have impacted many streams in the U.S. for over a century. Urban stream salinity is often chronically elevated and punctuated by episodic salinization events, which can last hours to days after snowstorms and the application of road salt. Here, we investigated the impacts of freshwater salinization on total dissolved nitrogen (TDN) and NO3/NO2 concentrations and fluxes across time in urban watersheds in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metropolitan area of the Chesapeake Bay region. Episodic salinization from road salt applications and snowmelt quickly mobilized TDN in streams likely through soil ion exchange, hydrologic flushing, and other biogeochemical processes. Previous experimental work from other studies has shown that salinization can mobilize nitrogen from sediments, but less work has investigated this phenomenon with high-frequency sensors and targeted monitoring during road salt events. We found that urban streams exhibited elevated concentrations and fluxes of TDN, NO3/NO2, and specific conductance that rapidly peaked during and after winter road salt events, and then rapidly declined afterwards. We observed plateaus in TDN concentrations in the ranges of the highest specific conductance values (between 1000 and 2000 μS/cm) caused by road salt events. Plateaus in TDN concentrations beyond a certain threshold of specific conductance values suggested source limitation of TDN in watersheds (at the highest ranges in chloride concentrations and ranges); salts were likely extracting nitrogen from soils and streams through ion exchange in soils and sediments, ion pairing in soils and waters, and sodium dispersion of soils to a certain threshold level. When watershed transport was compared across land use, including a forested reference watershed, there was a positive relationship between Cl loads and NO3/NO2 loads. This relationship occurred across all sites regardless of land use, which suggests that the mass transport of Cl and NO3/NO2 are likely influenced by similar factors such as soil ion exchange, ion pairing, sodium dispersion of soils, hydrologic flushing, and biogeochemical processes. Freshwater salinization has the potential to alter the magnitude and timing of total dissolved nitrogen delivery to receiving waters during winter months following road salt applications, and further work should investigate the seasonal relationships of N transport with salinization in urban watersheds. Full article
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