Losing the Farm
How Changes in Land Surface Affect Storm Runoff
Department of Physical and Life Sciences
Nevada State College
In this case study, students examine hydrologic characteristics of a real farm property in northwest Georgia and calculate the volume of storm runoff expected for a typical storm using the U.S. Soil Conservation Service (SCS) method. The case is used to teach components that need to be considered in evaluating precipitation runoff from a land surface. The farm land surface was greatly modified for a high-density residential subdivision. During the land use change, there were some unfortunate events that significantly affected the runoff characteristics of the property, causing damage to the property, neighboring structures, and the downstream environment. Students examine the significance of these changes with respect to runoff from a similar-sized storm. The case was developed for use in an introductory environmental hydrology course, but could also be adapted for a soil science course.
- Using analytical reasoning, evaluate the changing hydrologic characteristics of a natural setting upon which to base computations.
- Learn how various soil characteristics, coupled with different land uses, determine the volume of precipitation that will run off of a property in a single, typical storm event.
- Learn that, when natural drainage characteristics are modified for a new land use, runoff must be controlled and discharges minimized by designed structures to prevent detrimental effects on adjacent areas.
- Learn that exceptional storm precipitation events must be planned for in the design of runoff control structures
KeywordsErosion; runoff; soil; Social Conservation Service; hydrology; infiltration
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsInterrupted
Subject HeadingsHydrology | Environmental Engineering | Natural Resource Management | Earth Science | Environmental Science |