Assistant Professor Sujay Kaushal co-authored a recent study published in Urban Ecosystems that proposes an expanded view on urban watersheds.
The study entitled ‘The urban watershed continuum: evolving spatial and temporal dimensions’ presents a new conceptual framework which addresses characteristics of watersheds that are affected by urban land uses.
The study also describes urban watersheds as four dimensional eco-hydrologic entities across space and time.
A large amount of that space is below ground, where thousands of miles of pipes – including storm, sewer and water pipes – are routing water in and out of buildings, and ultimately between and across watersheds. The location and depth of the pipes, how much they leak and what they leak creates a complicated underground system that has vast implications for above-ground stream ecosystems, along with the people who depend on them, according to the study.
As mentioned in the study, time is also an important factor in a larger perspective on urban water. With urban watersheds experiencing tremendous change over time, many fluxes occur both above ground and within their underground networks.
According to Science Daily, “Buildings and human activities change on the surface, and trees benefitting from leaked water grow and their root systems extend deep into the subsurface. Below ground, the huge network of pipes ages and changes as technologies and regulatory environments change. These watershed changes exert large effects on their receiving streams.”
The study was co-authored with Ken Belt, a hydrologist/aquatic ecologist with the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station.