Hydrological modeling of green infrastructure to quantify its effect on flood mitigation and water availability in the high school watershed in Tucson, AZ

Yoganand Korgaonkar, David Phillip Guertin, Thomas Meixner, David C. Goodrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Green Infrastructure (GI) practices are being implemented in numerous cities to tackle stormwater management issues and achieve co-benefits such as mitigating heat island effects and air pollution, as well as water augmentation, health, and economic benefits. Tucson, Arizona is a fast-growing city in the semiarid region of the southwest United States and provides a unique landscape in terms of urban hydrology and stormwater management, where stormwater is routed along the streets to the nearest ephemeral washes. Local organizations have implemented various GI practices, such as curb cuts, traffic chicanes, roof runoff harvesting, and retention basins, to capture the excess runoff and utilize it on-site. This study models the 3.31 km2 High School watershed in central Tucson using the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) tool and the Kinematic Runoff and Erosion (KINEROS2) model. Each parcel in the watershed was individually represented using the KINEROS2 Urban element to simulate small-scale flow-on/flow-off processes. Seven different configurations of GI implementation were simulated using design storms, and we stochastically generated 20 years of precipitation data to understand the effects of GI implementation on flood mitigation and long-term water availability, respectively. The design storm analysis indicates that the configuration designed to mimic the current level of GI implementation, which includes 175 on-street basins and 37 roof runoff harvesting cisterns, has minimum (<2%) influence on runoff volume. Furthermore, the analysis showed that the current level of GI implementation caused an increase (<1%) in peak flows at the watershed outlet but predicted reduced on-street accumulated volumes (>25%) and increased water availability via GI capture and infiltration. When the GI implementation was increased by a factor of two and five, a larger reduction of peak flow (<8% and <22%, respectively) and volume (<3% and <8%, respectively) was simulated at the watershed outlet. The 20-year analysis showed that parcels with roof runoff harvesting cisterns were able to meet their landscape irrigation demands throughout the year, except for the dry months of May and June. Additionally, stormwater captured and infiltrated by the on-street basins could support xeric vegetation for most of the year, except June, where the water demand exceeded volume of water infiltrated in the basins. The current level of GI implementation in the High School watershed may not have significant large-scale impacts, but it provides numerous benefits at the parcel, street, and small neighborhood scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number443
JournalISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • AGWA
  • GIS
  • Green infrastructure
  • Hydrological modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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