Urban Watersheds: Geology, Contamination, and Sustainable Development (Hardback) book cover

Urban Watersheds

Geology, Contamination, and Sustainable Development

By Martin M. Kaufman, Daniel T. Rogers, Kent S. Murray

© 2011 – CRC Press

583 pages | 26 Color Illus. | 358 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2011-04-25
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With the continuing increase in population, more people are sharing the finite resources of the urban watershed, resulting in new and increasingly complex interactions between humans and the environment. Environmental contamination is a chronic problem—and an expensive one. In urban areas, water and soil contamination poses a threat to public health and has implications for future development. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Urban Watersheds: Geology, Contamination, and Sustainable Development offers a framework for those working to improve the urban environment and create sustainable urban watersheds.

The book presents over 20 years of research and professional practice on urban watersheds from the fields of environmental geology, geochemistry, risk analysis, hydrology, and urban planning. The geological characteristics of urbanized watersheds along with the properties of their common contaminants are integrated to assess risk factors for soil, groundwater, and air. With a framework rooted in scientific knowledge, the authors demonstrate the benefits of scientifically informed planning and decision making, offering guidelines to improve watershed management practices as well as urban development and redevelopment practices.

Suitable for use as a textbook and as a professional practice reference, the book includes case studies on successful and unsuccessful approaches to contaminant remediation as well as practical methods for environmental risk assessment. PowerPoint® presentations of selected portions of the book are available with qualifying course adoption.


Urban Watersheds: Geology, Contamination, and Sustainable Development is a pick for geosciences and urban policy collections alike. It provides college-level audiences with a fine technical survey that considers urban watersheds, considering the science, politics, and urban policies that surround their management and maintenance. Chapters consider sustainable development within the realm of water resource management, offering a text packed with charts, diagrams, and considerations of everything from common contaminants in urban watersheds to risk factors and research topics. A ‘must’ for any in-depth consideration of urban watershed issues and management.

California Bookwatch, Vol. 7(4), April 2012

… a very timely book. As the world population increasingly shifts from rural to urban areas, people need to understand how to use and protect the watersheds on which cities are built. These urban watersheds have their own set of concerns and problems. This volume is divided into three main sections as described in the subtitle: "Geology," "Contamination," and "Sustainable Development," with five main themes uniting the approach of the three sections (near-surface geology, water resources planning, industrial contamination, industrial remediation, and landscape planning). The first two sections occupy most of the book. This content tends to follow that of a typical contaminant hydrogeology textbook. However, it contains some interesting, unique chapters not typically found in such textbooks, including "Urban Geologic Mapping," "Metal Contamination in Urban Watersheds," and "Contaminant Risk Factors." The last section looks at the general impacts of urbanization and the disruptions of matter and energy flows due to human-generated and urban-related processes. This section also includes a useful chapter of case studies on contaminated sites that have undergone both successful and unsuccessful redevelopment. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and professionals.

— E. Gomezdelcampo, Bowling Green State University, in CHOICE, Vol. 49(2), Oct 2011

Long overdue, Urban Watersheds addresses a socially relevant issue where geology provides a leadership role in coordinating extensive interdisciplinary studies. It is hard to impress upon the global populace how important water resources are especially in the urban environment. This volume does an admirable job in raising the awareness of the subject. Especially significant is the ability of the authors to actually address sustainable development within the context of water as an essential resource. Kaufman, Rogers and Murray should be congratulated for championing the effort. The topic of watersheds is usually discussed in the perspective of the rural landscape and this volume makes a positive but quantum leap towards linking the management of water within the urban environment. From mapping and quantifying vulnerability to contaminant identification and remediation techniques, this single volume does an admirable job in addressing all aspects for this fascinating subject. The collective expertise and knowledge of Kaufman, Rogers and Murray ensured a professional standard of output was achieved in this technically accurate and scientifically interesting treatise. A must have book for engineers, geologists, hydrologists, and all others concerned with water.

—Peter Bobrowsky, PhD, Secretary General of the International Union of Geological Sciences

Urban Watersheds: Geology, Contamination, and Sustainable Development serves as a comprehensive reference for anyone working in, or studying the field of urban stormwater runoff management. The book addresses the multi-faceted nature of urban stormwater issues, and offers insightful well organized solutions to watershed contamination problems caused by runoff. The multidisciplinary nature of the book is a welcomed strength. The book logically follows the various and important aspects of the stormwater problem -- hydrology, ecology, pollution prevention and low impact development. The authors capitalize on this interdisciplinary approach by demonstrating the links between science and planning, in hopes that urban land use decisions can be made with a sound scientific backing. The book also aims to increase the effectiveness of watershed restoration by highlighting successful and unsuccessful approaches to contaminant remediation. Government officials, municipal regulators, stormwater utility personnel, watershed groups, researchers and students of a variety of courses from urban planning to environmental studies will find this book very useful.

—Hale W. Thurston, PhD, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

With the heightened risk of human exposure to a multitude of urban-sourced pollutants, ensuring healthy living conditions in heavily populated environments has become a daunting challenge. Contaminants that accumulate and migrate in the shallow subsurface represent one of the greatest threats to urban sustainability, but this concern is frequently ignored by an urban planning process that tends to be two-dimensional and ignores the critical role that groundwater plays in an urban setting. In this book on the sustainable development of urban watersheds, authors Kaufman, Rogers and Murray introduce a fundamentally new framework for planning and achieving sustainable urban watersheds, a framework that is rooted in the principles of hydrogeology, is soundly based in science and considers the watershed as a dynamic, fully integrated system. The book will strongly interest all students and professionals who are concerned with the urban water cycle or have an interest in contaminant migration, risk assessment or site remediation. It should be obligatory reading for all who contribute to the urban planning process.

—Prof. Ken W.F. Howard, Vice-President of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), Chair of the IAH Commission on Groundwater in Urban Areas, and Professor of Hydrogeology at the University of Toronto, Canada

Urban Watersheds is a comprehensive study of the hydrogeology, pollutant behaviors, investigation methods and remedial approaches in our most populated regions. The authors provide technical depth across this wide range of topics with a writing style that makes the topics very accessible, even to non-technical readers. This book will be a valuable resource for the technical, regulatory and policy-making communities.

—Fred Payne, PhD, Vice President and Technical Director, ARCADIS, Novi, Michigan, USA

Table of Contents

The Watershed Approach

Historical Transformation of Urbanized Watersheds by Industrial Development

The Evolution of Industry and the Rouge Watershed

Major Themes of the Watershed Approach Used in This Book

Organization of This Book


Geology of Urban Watersheds

Geological Processes Affecting Urban Watersheds

Sedimentary Processes: From Removal to Rock Formation

Identification and Classification of Sedimentary Deposits

Sedimentary Depositional Environments


Water and the Hydrogeology of Watersheds

Water Basics

Surface Water in Watersheds

Groundwater in Watersheds

Fundamental Concepts of Groundwater

Surface Water–Groundwater Interaction

Anthropogenic Influences on Surface Water and Groundwater

Conducting Subsurface Environmental Investigations in Urban Watersheds

Types and Description of Subsurface Environmental Investigations, Studies, Plans, or Reports

Common Environmental Sampling Methods

Urban Geologic Mapping

Geologic Mapping in an Urban Environment

Geologic Vulnerability

Subsurface Vulnerability and Vulnerability Map Development


Map-Building Example

Demonstrating the Significance of Vulnerability Mapping


Common Contaminants in Urban Watersheds

Contaminant Toxicity

Volatile Organic Compounds

Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Polychlorinated Biphenyls

Semivolatile Organic Compounds

Heavy Metals

Other Contaminants

Contaminant Fate and Transport

Contaminant Releases into the Environment

Principles of Contaminant Fate and Transport

Fate and Transport of Contaminants

Metal Contamination in Urban Watersheds

Heavy Metals in Soil

Case Study: Metals in Soil, Rouge River Watershed

Case Study: Dissolved Metals in Shallow Groundwater, Rouge River Watershed

Contaminant Risk Factors

Surface Risk Factor

Groundwater Contaminant Risk Factor

Soil Contaminant Risk Factor

Air Contaminant Risk Factor

Discussion and Implications

Remediation: Techniques and Cost

Remediation Overview

Common Soil Remediation Technologies

Summary of Soil Remediation Technologies

Common Groundwater Remediation Technologies

Summary of Groundwater Remediation Technologies

Sediment Remediation

Surface Water Remediation

Air Remediation

Cost of Remediation


Urbanization and the Disruption of Matter and Energy Flows within Watersheds

Watershed Structure

Watershed Function

Urbanization and Watersheds: Disruption of Matter and Energy Flows

Pollution Prevention

Pollution Prevention in the United States

Implementing Pollution Prevention Techniques: Industrial Point Sources

Implementing Pollution Prevention Techniques for Nonpoint Sources in Urbanized Watersheds

Case Studies: Successful and Unsuccessful Redevelopment of Contaminated Sites

Case Study 1: Michigan

Case Study 2: Illinois

Case Study 3: Indiana

Case Study 4: Wisconsin

Case Study 5: California

Case Study 6: New Jersey

Science-Based Landscape Planning in Urban Watersheds

The Science: Policy Gap

Science-Based Landscape Planning

Watershed Management

Attaining Sustainable Urban Watersheds

Sustainability and Sustainable Development

A Framework for Beginning Urban Watershed Management

Linking the First Step to the Big Picture

Glossary of Terms


About the Authors

Martin M. Kaufman is a professor of earth science at the University of Michigan-Flint. He has over 25 years of experience in geographic information systems, hydrologic investigations, and watershed management.

Daniel T. Rogers is currently the director of environmental affairs at Amsted Industries Incorporated. Throughout his career, Rogers has managed and conducted hundreds of geologic and hydrogeologic investigations and remediated and successfully closed industrial sites in the United States and internationally.

Kent S. Murray is a professor of geology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He has over 35 years experience in environmental geology, groundwater hydrology, and low-temperature geochemistry.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geology