Community Partner

Clean Water Services

First Advisor

Ray Koch

Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Management (MEM)


Environmental Science and Management




Water quality management -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Urban runoff -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Urbanization -- Environmental aspects




A watershed analysis project was undertaken to investigate the impact of urbanization on the water quality with Bronson Creek; a small urban stream in the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon. Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) have been established for several water quality parameters within the watershed.

Water quality data were collected at nine sampling along Bronson Creek by Clean Water Services, a local public utility charged with storm water management and water quality protection duties. Only seven water quality parameters were included in the analysis; they were 1) temperature, 2) total phosphorous, 3) ortho-phosphate, 4) ammonia, 5) total nitrogen, 6) total suspended solids, and 7) E. Coli. Samples were taken approximately twice a month over a 7 year period from 1994 - 2001.

Total impervious area (TIA) was used as the indicator of urbanization for the project. Impervious area values (TIA%) were calculated by digitizing aerial photography. Yearly TIA values were calculated for the entire watershed, as well as for its 37 subbasins (subcatchment level).

Water quality data were analyzed for variations along the stream and for the presence of trends (monotonic changes over time) during seasons of poor water quality. Kendall’s t was also used as the trend test statistic. Data were also analyzed to determine if an association exists between water quality at a sampling site and the upstream imperviousness (TIA%). Kendall’s t was used as the test statistic.

Negative trends (improving water quality) were found throughout the watershed with nitrogen exhibiting the largest reduction. Temperature was the only parameter not to exhibit a negative trend at any location within the watershed. Results of the correlation between water quality and TIA% showed similar results, where a parameter experiencing a trend also exhibited a significant Kendall’s correlation with upstream TIA%. As TIA increased, water quality improved at least one site, for all parameters except temperature.

One possible cause of the improving water quality within Bronson Creek is the implementation of best management practices within the watershed. Stormwater ponds were located in subcatchments that were adjacent to water quality sampling sites with improving water quality. The Bronson Creek watershed is also part of a pilot program to test the effectiveness of best management practices on improving water quality in the urban environment.


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A project report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Environmental Management.

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