Impacts of land cover on stream hydrology in the West Georgia Piedmont, USA

J Environ Qual. 2006 Oct 27;35(6):2123-31. doi: 10.2134/jeq2006.0113. Print 2006 Nov-Dec.


The southeastern United States is experiencing rapid urban development. Consequently, Georgia's streams are experiencing hydrologic alterations from extensive development and from other land use activities such as livestock grazing and silviculture. A study was performed to assess stream hydrology within 18 watersheds ranging from 500 to 2500 ha. Study streams were first, second, or third order and hydrology was continuously monitored from 29 July 2003 to 23 September 2004 using InSitu pressure transducers. Rating curves between stream stage (i.e., water depth) and discharge were developed for each stream by correlating biweekly discharge measurements and stage data. Dependent variables were calculated from discharge data and placed into 4 categories: flow frequency (i.e., the number of times a predetermined discharge threshold is exceeded), flow magnitude (i.e., maximum and minimum flows), flow duration (i.e., the amount of time discharge was above or below a predetermined threshold), and flow predictability and flashiness. Fine resolution data (i.e., 15-min interval) were also compared to daily discharge data to determine if resolution affected how streams were classified hydrologically. Urban watersheds experienced flashy discharges during storm events, whereas pastoral and forested watersheds showed less flashy hydrographs. Also, in comparison to all other flow variables, flow frequency measures were most strongly correlated to land cover. Furthermore, the stream hydrology was explained similarly with both the 15-min and daily data resolutions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / growth & development
  • Environment Design
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Geography
  • Georgia
  • Rivers*
  • Soil*
  • Southeastern United States
  • Time Factors
  • Trees / growth & development
  • Water Movements*
  • Water Pollutants / analysis
  • Water Supply*


  • Soil
  • Water Pollutants