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Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5037

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration Office of Project Development and Environmental Review

Statistics for Stochastic Modeling of Volume Reduction, Hydrograph Extension, and Water-Quality Treatment by Structural Stormwater Runoff Best Management Practices (BMPs)

By Gregory E. Granato

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (901 KB)Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) developed the Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to indicate the risk for stormwater concentrations, flows, and loads to be above user-selected water-quality goals and the potential effectiveness of mitigation measures to reduce such risks. SELDM models the potential effect of mitigation measures by using Monte Carlo methods with statistics that approximate the net effects of structural and nonstructural best management practices (BMPs). In this report, structural BMPs are defined as the components of the drainage pathway between the source of runoff and a stormwater discharge location that affect the volume, timing, or quality of runoff. SELDM uses a simple stochastic statistical model of BMP performance to develop planning-level estimates of runoff-event characteristics. This statistical approach can be used to represent a single BMP or an assemblage of BMPs. The SELDM BMP-treatment module has provisions for stochastic modeling of three stormwater treatments: volume reduction, hydrograph extension, and water-quality treatment. In SELDM, these three treatment variables are modeled by using the trapezoidal distribution and the rank correlation with the associated highway-runoff variables. This report describes methods for calculating the trapezoidal-distribution statistics and rank correlation coefficients for stochastic modeling of volume reduction, hydrograph extension, and water-quality treatment by structural stormwater BMPs and provides the calculated values for these variables. This report also provides robust methods for estimating the minimum irreducible concentration (MIC), which is the lowest expected effluent concentration from a particular BMP site or a class of BMPs. These statistics are different from the statistics commonly used to characterize or compare BMPs. They are designed to provide a stochastic transfer function to approximate the quantity, duration, and quality of BMP effluent given the associated inflow values for a population of storm events. A database application and several spreadsheet tools are included in the digital media accompanying this report for further documentation of methods and for future use.

In this study, analyses were done with data extracted from a modified copy of the January 2012 version of International Stormwater Best Management Practices Database, designated herein as the January 2012a version. Statistics for volume reduction, hydrograph extension, and water-quality treatment were developed with selected data. Sufficient data were available to estimate statistics for 5 to 10 BMP categories by using data from 40 to more than 165 monitoring sites. Water-quality treatment statistics were developed for 13 runoff-quality constituents commonly measured in highway and urban runoff studies including turbidity, sediment and solids; nutrients; total metals; organic carbon; and fecal coliforms. The medians of the best-fit statistics for each category were selected to construct generalized cumulative distribution functions for the three treatment variables. For volume reduction and hydrograph extension, interpretation of available data indicates that selection of a Spearman’s rho value that is the average of the median and maximum values for the BMP category may help generate realistic simulation results in SELDM. The median rho value may be selected to help generate realistic simulation results for water-quality treatment variables.

MIC statistics were developed for 12 runoff-quality constituents commonly measured in highway and urban runoff studies by using data from 11 BMP categories and more than 167 monitoring sites. Four statistical techniques were applied for estimating MIC values with monitoring data from each site. These techniques produce a range of lower-bound estimates for each site. Four MIC estimators are proposed as alternatives for selecting a value from among the estimates from multiple sites. Correlation analysis indicates that the MIC estimates from multiple sites were weakly correlated with the geometric mean of inflow values, which indicates that there may be a qualitative or semiquantitative link between the inflow quality and the MIC. Correlations probably are weak because the MIC is influenced by the inflow water quality and the capability of each individual BMP site to reduce inflow concentrations.

First posted April 7, 2014

  • Digital Media Zip (4.4 MB)
    A 4.4 MB zip file with electronic files that facilitate calculation of statistics for stochastic modeling of structural stormwater runoff best management practices.

For additional information, contact:
Office Chief, New England Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Massachusetts-Rhode Island Office
10 Bearfoot Road
Northborough, MA 01532
(508) 490-5000

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Suggested citation:

Granato, G.E., 2014, Statistics for stochastic modeling of volume reduction, hydrograph extension, and water-quality treatment by structural stormwater runoff best management practices (BMPs): U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5037, 37 p.,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)





Methods of Analysis

Results of Analyses


References Cited

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