Water Resources Professional Project Reports


Rachel Hertzman

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Stormwater runoff volumes increase with urbanization, at a significant cost to the environment (Walsh, et al., 2005; Dhakal & Chevalier, 2016; Warnemuende, Shuster, Smith, & Bonta, 2003; Dougherty, et al., 2007; Jacobson, 2011; Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1986; Masoud, 2015). Urban development alters soil, pollutant loads in runoff, geomorphology, channelization, and topography—determinative factors in conducting stormwater away from habitable areas and filtering toxins from the domestic water supply (Sutton, Anderson, Elvidge, Tuttle, & Ghosh, 2009; Hale, Turnbull, Earl, Childers, & Grimm, 2015; Goldshleger, Maor, Garzuzi, & Asaf, 2015; Schueler, Fraley-McNeal, & Cappiella, 2009; Gremillion, Gonyeau, & Wanielista, 2000; Furusho, Andrieu, & Chancibault, 2014). The proliferation of impermeable surfaces, paved roadways, increased construction, and urbanization typically leads to decreased infiltration of precipitation, increased volumes of surface water runoff, degraded water quality, and greater flow rates of runoff, than in undeveloped catchment basins (Endreny, 2005; Yao, Wei, & Chen, 2016; Tang, Engel, Pijanowski, & Lim, 2005; Harbor, 1994). The greater runoff volumes resulting from urban development subject the built environment and infrastructure to physical stress (Delleur, 2013; Hughes, et al., 2014; Niemczynowicz J. , 1999).

Hydrological impacts of urban development in arid regions, and in Albuquerque, New Mexico in particular, are not well-studied (Gautam, Acharya, & Stone, 2010). This project addresses that gap in the literature. Situated in the high desert of the Southwestern United States, Albuquerque has experienced significant urban development during the past century. Using publicly available data collected by the United States Geological Survey, precipitation records, and a set of aerial images, this project tested the hypothesis that urban development increases urban runoff. Total discharge from stormwater runoff in Albuquerque’s Northeast catchment basin was correlated with growing urban development, from 1968 to 2013.


Stormwater runoff, urbanization, urban development, soil, pollutant runoff, geomorphology, channelization, and topography, stormwater, domestic water supply, proliferation of impermeable surfaces, paved roadways


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico.