Abstract

Estimating infiltration losses is very important for calculating runoff and recharge. However, the accuracy of contemporary infiltration models for disturbed urban soils may not be adequate, potentially compromising calculations based upon them. The objective of this study was to assess the performance of the two most prevalent infiltration models, Horton and Green–Ampt, for applications in urban soils. The data were measured by the US Environmental Protection Agency in a large city for soils with various characteristics of texture, structure, age, compactness, and dryness/wetness. The results indicate both models performed better in predicting infiltration rates for clayey rather than sandy soils, for new rather than old soils, and for wet rather than dry soils. For the clayey soils, both models performed better for the noncompact than compact soils. The opposite was true for sandy soils. Overall, neither infiltration model performed well for most soils, with the sole exception of the new clayey, wet, noncompact soils. The generally poor performance of the models in disturbed soils will likely increase uncertainty in model predictions. This study demonstrates the need to develop improved, more robust infiltration algorithms applicable to urban soils and various kinds of urban development that are based on carefully measured field experimental data.

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