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  Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program ã  Purdue University1   Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service ã  West Lafayette, IN 47907Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program ã  Purdue University ID-260IISG-01-19 The Relationship Between Land Use Decisions and theImpacts on Our Water and Natural Resources Brian MillerAssociate Director andOutreach Coordinator,Illinois-Indiana Sea GrantCollege ProgramRobert McCormick Coordinator, Planning with POWER  Planning with POWER 765-494-3627www.planningwithpower.org Communities throughout the state of Indiana are growing and changing. Thechanges that growth brings can have bothpositive and negative impacts. Acommunity’s natural resources are oneasset that can be negatively impacted bygrowth if careful planning and proactivesteps are not taken. This publicationdescribes the relationship between landuse decisions and natural resources andexplains how the Planning with POWERprogram can help communities “ P rotect O ur W ater and E nvironmental R esources” as they grow. Land Use Decisions Can AffectNatural Resources and Water Quality Land use decisions are having significantimpacts on our water and other naturalresources in communities across thecountry. The potential negative impactsto our water and natural resources increaseas the intensity of land use increases.Intensity of land use can be categorizedas low intensity (open space includingfarmland, wild lands, and managed greenspace) or high intensity (industrial,commercial, and urban centers). Moreintensively developed areas have a greaterlevel of impervious surfaces, includingroads, parking lots, sidewalks, rooftops,etc., than low intensity areas. Impervioussurfaces prevent natural infiltration of water and increase storm water runoff.As the intensity of land use increases,infiltration and the ability to rechargeground water decreases becausepercolation of surface water into theaquifer is inhibited. The increasedrunoff that results can also lead toincreased water pollution and physicaldamage to our aquatic systems. Landsproviding natural resources are oftenremoved from this purpose anddeveloped. Remaining wild landsadjacent to intensive land use arenegatively affected, and some of thenatural functions they provide (habitatand travel corridors) can be impaired. Lands Providing and SupportingNatural Resources Open space includes farmlands, managedgreen space (golf courses, parks, recreationareas), and wild lands (forest lands,unmanaged habitats, field corners, fencerows, abandoned pastures, etc.). INCREASED AMOUNTOF IMPERVIOUSSURFACEINCREASEDINTENSITY OFLAND USEINCREASEDPOTENTIAL WATERQUALITY&NATURAL RESOURCEPROBLEMS Land Use Decisions Can Affect NaturalResources and Water Quality................1Lands Providing and Supporting NaturalResources...............................................1Threats to Lands Supporting WildlifeHabitat...................................................2Increased Runoff...................................3Increased Pollution................................4What Can You Do About It....................5Natural Resource-Based Planning.........5Not All Growth Pays.............................6Appropriate Site Design and BestManagement Practices...........................7Remediation and MaintenancePractices.................................................8Planning with POWER Can Help You..10Additional Information..................10-11 Table of Contents  Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service ã  West Lafayette, IN 479072 Examples of Open Space FarmlandWild LandsManaged Green Space Loss of Open Space  Each year, over 50,000 acresof farmland is converted todevelopment in Indiana(according to the National Resources Inventory). Indiana ranks second inacreage of prime farmland inthe country, behind Illinois. What is open space? These areas perform many vital andimportant functions such as collectingand filtering our water, filtering our air,providing critical habitat for wildlife,providing places for recreationalopportunities, and providing food andfiber for the world.Unfortunately, this open space is rapidlydisappearing. From 1926 to 1997, therate of development in the United Statesdoubled to a level of three million acresper year. Indiana currently ranks secondin the nation in total acreage of primefarmland, of which over 50,000 acresare lost each year. This is equal to 9acres per hour – a trend in land usechange that has a serious impact on theamount of prime farmland for futureproduction needs. Threats to Lands SupportingWildlife Habitat What kind of threats? Our natural resources – such as timber,wildlife, water, food, and plants fromwhich we derive medications – are allproduced in the “open space” on ourlandscapes. Land use changes permanentlyimpact lands providing our naturalresources and can negatively impact thequality of the remaining lands thatprovide natural resources or performnatural functions.Unwise land use decisions can negativelyimpact wildlife populations in severalways. Critical habitat is lost each timewetlands, forestlands, grass lands, oragricultural lands are converted to otheruses. The quality of the remainingwildlife habitat can also be affected bythe adjoining land use. Predation onnests and wildlife is increased by thegrowing population of dogs and cats inthe area. Increased levels of humanactivity and shrinking habitat size canfurther reduce the use of habitats astravel corridors or nesting areas by manyspecies sensitive to this disturbance.Land use decisions often result inparcelization, which breaks large areasof habitat into smaller parcels. Thisprocess fragments a landscape and cannegatively impact wildlife populationsby inhibiting their dispersal or migratorypatterns, preventing them from movingfrom feeding areas to places providingcover, and can make animals vulnerableto predation as they move greaterdistances from one area of suitablehabitat to another.Fragmentation and parcelization of farmland, forestland, green space, andwildlife habitat has three major impacts:ãIt reduces the acreage of naturalwildlife habitats and farmland. Fragmentation and Habitat Loss  Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program ã  Purdue University3 Why is it a Problem? Impervious Cover is Integrative  As the intensity of land useincreases, there is acorresponding increase in theamount of impervious surfacessuch as roads, parking lots,sidewalks, and rooftops.From 1979 to 1994, the number of private forest owners in Indiana tripled, but the number of acres in forest remained approximately the same. ãIt increases contact between landsproviding natural functions and poten-tially conflicting uses. For example,increased development near wildlifehabitats increases the conflicts betweenpeople and wildlife. This may result inwildlife damage or increased predationand disturbance to wild animals byhouse pets and people.ãIt increases isolation of wildlife andplants, which can inhibit their dis-persal and genetic mixing and can leadto a species’ decline or even extinctionin an area.In the last 16 years, the number of private forest owners tripled, but thenumber of acres in forest remained aboutthe same. This increased parcelizationfacilitates fragmentation due to thediversity of management and use of individual tracts of land. Planning with POWER  encourages theprotection of large tracts of farmland,forestland, other open spaces, and wildlifehabitat in areas of your community mostsuited to this purpose. These valuablenatural resource areas can then thrive andfunction as a cohesive unit for generationsto come, thus maintaining a critical naturalresource base for the community. Increased Runoff  What causes runoff? How can runoff impact natural resources? Scientific studies show a correspondingincrease in the amount of impervioussurfaces such as roads, parking lots,sidewalks, and rooftops as the intensity of land use increases. An increase inimpervious surfaces causes the volumeand velocity of storm water runoff toincrease significantly. The results can beincreased flooding, severe erosion, andphysical degradation of stream and riverhabitats that adversely impact the entirewatershed and our valuable water supply.Studies have shown that streams inwatersheds with greater than 10 percent of their land area in impervious cover begin toshow signs of ecological impairment. Asthe impervious cover in a watershedapproaches 25 percent, streams becomedegraded and the water quality, habitatquality, and biological diversity occurring inwatershed streams are all greatly reduced.Flooding can have disastrous impacts onthe local community, both in terms of private property damage and use of publictax dollars for clean up and removal of debris and sediment when floodwatersrecede. Erosion of our valuable topsoilresource can result in decreasedagricultural productivity and increasedsediment runoff. Sediment runoff oftencontains pollutants such as nutrients andpesticides, which degrade water. Increased Runoff   Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service ã  West Lafayette, IN 479074 Commercial Farmland andManaged Greenspace ResidentialIndustrial Polluted runoff is the number one water quality problem inthe United States today. Physical degradation of natural streambeds,such as channelization and scouring, is alsocaused by increased runoff. Suchdegradation is detrimental to aquatic lifeand can result in the destruction of aquaticecosystems in rivers and streams. Planning with POWER encourages theslowing of storm water runoff andincreasing infiltration through the use of vegetated swales, retention/detentionponds, buffers, pervious paving methods,and other Best Management Practices(BMPs) to protect water and other naturalresources. By doing so, the overallintegrity of our streams, rivers, and otherwaterways are maintained and improved. Increased PollutionSources and Types of Polluted Runoff  FarmlandManaged GreenspaceCommercial &Residential (golf courses, lawns, parks) IndustrialNutrients FertilizersFertilizersAcid rain,Fertilizers, septicautomotive exhaustsystem effluent Pathogens Domestic & wildDomestic & wildMalfunctioning/Malfunctioninganimal wasteanimal wasteoverloaded septicseptic systems,systems and lagoonspet waste Sediments Erosion from fields,Erosion from fields,Construction sites,Construction sites,stream bank erosionstream bank erosionroadside erosion,road sand, erosionfrom animalsfrom animalsroad sandfrom lawns and gardens Toxic PesticidesPesticidesIndustrial pollutants,Household products, Contaminants automotive emissionspesticides& fluids Debris Litter, illegalLitter, illegalLitter, illegalLitter, illegaldumpingdumpingdumpingdumping Thermal Removal ofShallow waterHeated runoff,Heated runoff,streamsideimpoundments,removal of streamsideremoval of streamsidevegetationremoval of streamsidevegetation,vegetation,vegetationimpoundmentsimpoundments As storm water runoff increases involume and velocity, the types andamounts of pollutants detrimental towater quality and aquatic life may alsoincrease. Very little infiltration of stormwater occurs. This lack of infiltrationeliminates the natural breakdown andfiltering processes of the soil profile thatnormally cleanses and filters water aspart of the natural water cycle.Pollutants – such as sediment, nutrients,pathogens, and toxic contaminants – posea threat to our drinking water supply andcan reduce or destroy fish populations andaquatic life. Pollutants may also renderwater resources unfit for recreational usessuch as swimming and fishing.Polluted runoff is the number one waterquality problem in the United Statestoday. There are four main sources of polluted runoff: farmland, managedgreen space, commercial and industriallands, and residential areas. The types of pollutants from each of these sourcesvary, but some common pollutants areshared by several of these sources. Seetable below. Sources of Polluted Runoff  Pollutants – such as sediment,nutrients, pathogens, and toxic contaminants – pose athreat to our drinking water. Where does the pollution come from?
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