Effectiveness of vegetative filter strips for sediment control from steep construction landscapes

Yufan Zhang, Rabin Bhattarai, Rafael Muñoz-Carpena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sediment carried off-site by runoff poses a significant water quality threat to receiving water bodies. Best management practices (BMPs) are commonly applied to reduce the impact of runoff on surface water quality. Vegetative filter strips (VFS) are low-cost BMP that often provide significant runoff mitigation in agricultural and urban settings with moderate slopes (<15 %). However, the runoff mitigation effectiveness of VFS under steep, short slopes like those typical of roadway construction is unknown. This study aimed to systematically investigate the efficacy of short (<5 m) and sparse VFS on steep slopes (>15 %). Field experiments were conducted on a steep hillslope (3H:1V, 33.3 %) where three VFS lengths (1.52 m, 3.05 m, and 4.57 m) were monitored during runoff events (10-y, 6-hr) to measure runoff delivery ratio (RDR) and sediment delivery ratio (SDR). The experimental results showed reductions of 60–98 % in runoff and 73–98 % in sediment, confirming the potential efficiency of this BMP in high-sloped conditions like a roadway construction site under certain conditions. The Vegetative Filter Strips Modeling System (VFSMOD) was successfully tested against the observed field values (NSE = 0.98 and 0.89 for RDR and SDR, respectively) and used to explore more scenarios. A wide range of roadway construction settings (VFS size, slope, vegetation density) was investigated with VFSMOD, and two simplified statistical regression equations and nomographs were developed to quantify RDR and SDR based on the simulation results. The proposed equations simplify the complexity of VFS design and can be readily generalized to other locations (rainfall/runoff, soil, vegetation) after reparametrizing coefficients in regression equations based on VFSMOD simulations to obtain new nomographs as a design aid to determine the minimum buffer length for a particular site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107057
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023


  • Roadway runoff
  • Surface water quality
  • Vegetative filter strips

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Effectiveness of vegetative filter strips for sediment control from steep construction landscapes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this