Land Use and the Hydrograph


Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
The Watershed Concept

The amount of urbanization of a watershed has a dramatic effect on the amount of precipitation which is delivered to streams or lakes (runoff) and that which enters the soil (infiltration) or returns to the atmosphere (evapotranspiration). Urban watersheds typically have fewer plants (less transpiration) and more impervious surfaces (less infiltration). This leads to increased runoff and higher streamflow (and perhaps flooding) during rain events. The accompanying interactive animation illustrates this.

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