The Impact of Suburbanization on an Urban River

by Eva J. Hoffman, Narragansett Bay Project, Providence, RI, USA,
Albert T. Klyberg, Narragansett Bay Project, Providence, RI, USA,
Melissa L. Waterman, Narragansett Bay Project, Providence, RI, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '87


A case study of the impacts of suburbanization on the water quality of an urban river was completed to detail the various impacts of suburbanization on the culture, economy and environment of Rhode Island. Suburbanization was found to affect the Pawtuxet River, a tributary to Narragansett Bay, in six ways: (1) increased commercial and residential development led to increased loadings from urban runoff and sewage discharges; (2) increased traffic volumes led to increased highway runoff loadings; (3) construction activities during highway building led to accelerated soil erosion and high sediment loads in the river; (4) loss of wetlands resulted in decreased mitigation of runoff and erosional loads; (5) the course of the river was changed in four places during construction of an interstate highway through the area; and (6) frequency of flooding increased, perhaps due to paving of the watershed.

Subject Headings: Infrastructure construction | Suburbs | Rivers and streams | Case studies | Water pollution | Soil analysis | Municipal water | Water quality | Rhode Island | United States

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