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Landscape level estimate of lands and waters impacted by road runoff in the Adirondack Park of New York State

Regalado, Sean A., Kelting, Daniel L.
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2015 v.187 no.8 pp. 510
aquatic ecosystems, environmental impact, geographic information systems, hydrologic models, landscapes, monitoring, overland flow, pollutants, roads, runoff, streams, surface water, topography, New York
Road runoff is understood to be a significant stressor in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, yet the effects of this stressor are poorly understood at large spatial scales. We developed an efficient method for estimating the spatial impact of road runoff on lands and waters over large geographic areas and then applied our methodology to the 2.4 million ha Adirondack Park in New York State. We used TauDEM hydrologic modeling and a series of ESRI GIS processes to delineate surface flow downslope of paved roads, illustrating the potential movement of pollutants originating from paved roads through the USGS 10 m DEM topography. We then estimated the land and surface water areas, number of water bodies, and total stream length potentially impacted by road runoff from paved roads. We found that as much as 11 % of land area, 77 % of surface water area, 1/3 of the water bodies, and 52 % of stream length in the Adirondack Park may be impacted by road runoff. The high degree of hydrologic association between paved roads and the lands and waters of this region strongly suggests that the environmental impacts of road runoff should be evaluated along with other regional stressors currently being studied. Being able to estimate the spatial impact of road runoff is important for designing monitoring programs that can explicitly monitor this stressor while also providing opportunities to understand the interaction of multiple environmental stressors.