The conversion of natural and agriculturally dominated watersheds to industrial, commercial and residential developments leads to a cascade of adjustments in runoff quantity and stream quality at locations further downstream. The use of sophisticated hydrologic simulation models and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has become the standard for evaluating these impacts of urban sprawl on water resources systems. Simulation and GIS models alone, however, are incapable of directly revealing optimal land development patterns that meet specified objectives. This paper describes the development of a multi-objective Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) designed to overcome this limitation. The SDSS is created by integrating the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) for comprehensive hydrologic simulation, a GIS for generating input and visualizing output, and a genetic algorithm (GA) for identifying weighted, optimal land use patterns. In addition to the GA, future research will involve the integration of a second search mechanism, the artificial life algorithm, to verify optimal results. The optimal landscape is that which minimizes sediment yield in subsequent streams, while simultaneously maximizing approximate anticipated profit from urban development. The SDSS could be a useful visualization tool for land use managers and watershed management institutions in planning new developments. The SDSS has been tested on the Lower Kaskaskia watershed, located in the Metro East area of southwestern Illinois. Evidenced by a historical survey of population growth and hydrologic and water quality variability, this basin is an example of a watershed that is undergoing extensive water resources changes as a result of urbanization. An investigation of watershed planning activities and stakeholder groups in the watershed has also been undertaken. Meetings with these individuals have allowed direct dissemination of the research to affected groups and have been useful for generating feedback on future work and model modifications.


Civil and Environmental Engineering



URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cenv_fac/275