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The effect of increased watershed urbanization on MPA water quality

Authors: Kyle Flanagan*, University of South Florida
Topics: Environmental Science, Coastal and Marine, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: MPA, Urbanization, Runoff, Impervious Cover, Landuse, Land Cover, SWAT
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are established based on ecological and economic characteristics and needs, and assessed through adaptive management where success targets are set by comparison with controls; a method considering ecology within MPA boundaries, but failing to integrate/incorporate effects of runoff-derived inputs (sediments/pollutants). Studies show that MPA success is related to water quality from watersheds. To effectively plan, manage, and protect MPAs, placement and success criteria need scope expansion to include interconnectivity of terrestrial-coastal systems and mechanisms linking landuse/landcover (LULC) to water quality. It was hypothesized that urbanized watersheds discharge poorer quality water to downstream MPAs than watersheds with less urbanization thus negatively impacting MPA success. A comparison using LULC data from the 2011 National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD) at the HUC 8 scale was performed under scenarios of 1-cell to 5-cell urban growth on simulated water quality discharged into Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge (LSNWR) and Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves (CHAP) using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). It is expected that SWAT results will show declines in water quality discharged to both watersheds under simulated conditions of increased urban area, suggesting an inverse relationship between urban coverage of watersheds and water quality discharged to MPAs.

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