Wednesday, February 25, 2015


This article was on a study done in the Whiteoak Bayou Watershed, which is located near Houston, TX. The study looked at the watershed's ability to urbanize without being compromised. Generally, a watershed can handle some development and runoff because they have a certain capacity for adjusting to change. The study used a GIS technique called Spatial Metrics to look at how the land was being used and to view changes to it, and to see if the development and runoff patterns had caused the watershed to be pushed beyond where the hydrologic conditions could correct themselves. The method allows the land to be divided into different categories so that it can be more thoroughly analyzed. Once all the development data was collected the people conducting the survey converted the information into raster data, assigning different values to developed and undeveloped areas. This raster data was then converted into spatial metrics that allowed the researchers to identify important information about runoff.
As you can see from the graph above, there is an obvious upward trend in the amount of runoff that occurs each year since the 1950s. The researchers concluded that this watershed reached a level beyond that which it could handle. The runoff depth was effected by both the amount of development in the area, and the amount of precipitation. The researchers also noted that this method was done specifically for this area, and any application of it to other watersheds should be done with care.

Olivera, Francisco, and Buren B. DeFee. "Urbanization and Its Effect On Runoff in the Whiteoak Bayou Watershed, Texas1." (2007): 170-182.


  1. It is important to study runoff and its effect on watersheds. The spatial metric used in this study can show the detrimental effects to the watershed and if the watershed is able to repair itself or not.

  2. The graph given shows that annual runoff has rapidly increased since 1950 and more rapidly so in the more recent decades. Perhaps if it continues to accelerate in an upward trend, watersheds might face more issues with runoff in the decades to come.