Investigating the Stormwater Quantity and Quality Impacts of Urban Trees

Seminar Recording


William Selbig, Research Hydrologist, USGS Wisconsin Water Science Center

Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 10:00am to 12:00pm


Trees have long been a valued feature of the urban landscape. They provide a host of benefits such as habitat, aesthetics, energy savings, and noise reduction. Trees are also an important part of the urban hydrologic cycle. The functions and value of trees have recently gained attention as viable tools in the management of urban stormwater. Research on the interactions between urban trees and stormwater quantity and quality has revealed a double-edged sword. A community with dense overhead tree canopy may benefit from reduced stormwater runoff volume through interception, transpiration, and infiltration but may also suffer from excess nutrients leached to nearby receiving waters from leaf litter. This presentation will highlight two ongoing research projects that will help environmental managers assess the stormwater volume reduction potential of urban trees as well as understand how municipal leaf collection and street cleaning programs can limit the amount of nutrients in stormwater runoff. 

Speaker Bio

Bill selbig

Bill is a research hydrologist for the USGS – Upper Midwest Water Science Center. He has over 20 years of experience measuring the quantity and quality of nonpoint source runoff in urban environments. The majority of Bill’s research is focused on characterizing the hydrologic and chemical response of stormwater to structural and non-structural practices designed to mitigate stormwater pollution. Much of his research is used to stimulate or amend stormwater policy within the state of Wisconsin. His research has helped environmental managers quantify the water-quality benefits of street cleaners, establish criteria for successful use of rain gardens, better understand the synergistic effect of green infrastructure, and identify emerging contaminants in the urban environment. In addition to working for the USGS, Bill currently serves on several local, state and national research groups and technical committees that focus on urban stormwater runoff.