Utilization of parking lots in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA, and impacts on local streams
Utilization of parking lots around Hatiiesburg, Mississippi, USA, was examined to suggest mechanisms for reducing runoff into local streams. Stream health was assessed by a census of fish communities. We found that most parking lots were used well below capacity, even in the peak shopping period before the Christmas holiday. Levels of utilization were primarily determined by shopping center age and parking availability relative to the size of businesses served. Streams receiving runoff had high undercut banks and heavy sediment loads. Their fish faunas were depauperate compared with a similar-sized stream in a nearby rural area. To moderate the impact of runoff, we recommend that lot size be carefully calibrated to actual parking demand. New businesses should be encouraged to establish in existing, unused parking lots rather than constructing new parking areas.