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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  2. Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a severe problem in the U.S. and worldwide. Best management practices (BMPs) have been widely used to control stormwater and reduce NPS pollution. Previous research has shown that socio-economic factors affect households’ adoption of BMPs, but few studies have quantitatively analyzed the spatio-temporal dynamics of household BMP adoption under different socio-economic conditions. In this paper, diverse regression approaches (linear, LASSO, support vector, random forest) were used on the ten-year data of household BMP adoption in socio-economically diverse areas of Washington, D.C., to model BMP adoption behaviors. The model with the best performance (random forest regression, R2 = 0.67, PBIAS = 7.2) was used to simulate spatio-temporal patterns of household BMP adoption in two nearby watersheds (Watts Branch watershed between Washington, D.C., and Maryland; Watershed 263 in Baltimore), each of which are characterized by different socio-economic (population density, median household income, renter rate, average area per household, etc.) and physical attributes (total area, percentage of canopy in residential area, average distance to nearest BMPs, etc.). The BMP adoption rate was considerably higher at the Watts Branch watershed (14 BMPs per 1000 housing units) than at Watershed 263 (4 BMPs per 1000 housing units) due to distinct differences in the watershed characteristics (lower renter rate and poverty rate; higher median household income, education level, and canopy rate in residential areas). This research shows that adoption behavior tends to cluster in urban areas across socio-economic boundaries and that targeted, community-specific social interventions are needed to reach the NPS control goal. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  3. Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a pressing issue worldwide, especially in the Chesapeake Bay, where sediment, nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) are the most critical water quality concerns. Despite significant efforts by federal, state, and local governments, the improvement in water quality has been limited. Investigating the spatial distribution of NPS hotspots can help understand NPS pollutant output and guide control measures. We hypothesize that as land cover changes from natural (e.g., forestland) and agricultural to suburban and ultra-urban, the distribution of NPS pollution source areas becomes increasingly spatially uniform. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed three real watersheds with varying land cover (Greensboro watershed for agriculture, Watts Branch watershed for suburban, and Watershed 263 for ultra-urban) and three synthetic watersheds developed based on the Watts Branch watershed, which ranged from forested and agricultural to ultra-urban but had the same soil, slope, and weather conditions. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was selected as a phenomenological model for the analysis, and SWAT-CUP was used for model calibration and validation. The hydrologic responses of the three real and synthetic watersheds were simulated over ten years (1993–2002 or 2002–2011), and calibration and validation results indicated that SWAT could properly predict the export of runoff and three target NPS pollution constituents (sediment, total nitrogen, and total phosphorus). The results showed that the distribution of NPS pollutant outputs becomes increasingly uniform as land cover changes from agriculture to ultra-urban across watersheds. This research suggests that the spatial distribution of NPS pollution source areas is a function of the major land cover category of study watersheds, and control strategies should be adapted accordingly. If NPS pollution is distributed unevenly across a watershed, hotspot areas output a disproportionate amount of pollution and require more targeted and intensive control measures. Conversely, if the distribution of NPS pollution is more uniform across a watershed, the control strategies need to be more widespread and encompass a larger area. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
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    Groundwater is the main source of irrigation and residential use in the Eastern Shore Maryland, which is experiencing challenges regarding overuse, saltwater intrusion, and diminishing productivity. The Chesapeake Bay is also facing the problem of water pollution due to pollutant loading from agricultural fields and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Using recycled water for irrigation has the potential to alleviate the pressure on groundwater and reduce pollutant loading. The objective of this study was to develop a decision tool to explore the use of recycled water for agricultural irrigation in Maryland using Multicriteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) integrated with Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Four main evaluation criteria were included in the GIS-MCDA framework: agricultural land cover, climate, groundwater vulnerability, and characteristics of the WWTPs as sources of recycled water. Groundwater vulnerability zones were developed using the groundwater well density, water extraction data, and the aquifer information. Then, the most suitable areas for irrigation using recycled water were identified. About 13.5% and 32.9% of agricultural land was, respectively, found to be “highly” and “moderately” suitable for irrigation with recycled water when WWTPs were categorized based on their treatment process information. The results provide a useful decision tool to promote the use of recycled water for agricultural irrigation. 
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