Design Tool for Controlling Runoff and Sediment from Highway Construction

Principal Investigator(s):

Bruce Wilson, Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

Project summary:

Control of runoff and sediment from highway construction sites is an important component of transportation infrastructure maintenance; regulations require that stormwater pollution prevention plans be developed for construction activities that disturb an area that is equal to or greater than one acre. Numerous experimental studies have been or are being supported by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) in order to understand erosion processes and to support the implementation of best practices for the control of erosion and sediment runoff. However, extrapolating results from these studies to the wide variety of construction conditions in Minnesota is difficult. It is best accomplished by using a theoretical framework that links together the many factors influencing erosion and sediment transport. An important first step in linking key processes was the development of the WATER (Watershed Assessment Tool for Environmental Risk) simulation tool, which simulates the runoff and erosion for a single roadside construction unit and is limited to on-site erosion control practices. This research expanded the WATER model by including algorithms for off-site sediment control practices (such as detention ponds), by linking together multiple construction units and other land uses to simulate the response of watersheds, and by improving usability when dealing with spatial data sets. These additions are critically important in developing a model that is useful to erosion/sediment control practitioners.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2006017
  • Start date: 12/2005
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Maintenance