Research Article Open Access

Impacts of Large-Scale Stormwater Green Infrastructure Implementation and Climate Variability on Receiving Water Response in the Salt Lake City Area

Chris York1, Erfan Goharian1 and Steven J. Burian1
  • 1 University of Utah, United States


This study evaluated impacts of Green Infrastructure (GI) as a stormwater management practice on return flows and the further Implications of climate variability. The goal was to create a model to explore the impacts that bioretention and Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) representing GI had using goldsim and Stormwater Management Modeling (SWMM) software. The software was used to represent impacts that climate variability individually and combined, may have on downstream stakeholders and receiving water systems in Salt Lake city, Utah, USA. Primary stakeholders included downstream water rights users, Farmington Bay waterfowl management area and the migratory birds that rely on Farmington Bay and the advocates that represent them. The steps to reach this goal were broken down incrementally to: (1) Characterize daily inflows to Farmington Bay, (2) Provide daily inflows from natural and urban runoff to the Jordan river, (3) Create a daily water balance model of Farmington Bay, (4) Demonstrate the model with and without stormwater GI and climate variability scenarios and (5) Determine trends of inflow to the Jordan River, duck clubs and Farmington Bay under various scenarios. The simulation results demonstrated that bioretention and RWH individually and combined had minimal impact on downstream water users, Jordan River flows and ultimately Farmington Bay water levels. Bioretention reduced the flow in the Jordan River minimally, with reductions primarily during peak flow. RWH actually kept more water in the natural system on average because less water was needed from the water treatment facilities when outdoor irrigation was supplemented with rainwater. The user reliability did not differ for any of the bioretention and RWH scenarios. The climate variability scenario had the greatest impact to Jordan River flows, Farmington Bay water levels and user reliability. When analyzed without GI implementation, the climate variability induced reduction in tributary flows and precipitation led to an average decrease of 11% in the Jordan River streamflow when compared to average baseline scenario over a 25 year simulation. The user reliability decreased by 5% and most importantly there was found to be an average of 36% decrease in the water levels in Farmington Bay. The resultant of the decrease in Farmington Bay water level is a loss of up to 61 square kilometers (15,000 acres) of open bay that would impact bird habitat, brine shrimp grounds, recreationalists, bird watchers, hunters and more. For this case study the implications of climate variability on the water system are much greater than implementing GI.

American Journal of Environmental Sciences
Volume 11 No. 4, 2015, 278-292


Submitted On: 28 February 2015 Published On: 20 October 2015

How to Cite: York, C., Goharian, E. & Burian, S. J. (2015). Impacts of Large-Scale Stormwater Green Infrastructure Implementation and Climate Variability on Receiving Water Response in the Salt Lake City Area. American Journal of Environmental Sciences, 11(4), 278-292.

  • 38 Citations



  • Green Infrastructure
  • Climate Variability
  • Bioretention
  • Rainwater Harvesting