Approaches for obtaining SITES v2 water credits in playa hydrologic systems of the Llano Estacado region
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Playa lakes systems on the Llano Estacado High Plains shortgrass prairie plateau offer regionally unique and vital hydrologic and ecosystem functions. Anthropogenic influences including farming, ranching, energy exploration and production, and urbanization create negative alterations to these complex, vulnerable systems, undermining the important roles they play. While non-urban human-playa interactions have been addressed to varying degrees of success, urban playas receive little attention. Rapid urban growth in the Lubbock area exceeds global population trends of urban growth. Therefore, urban developments need to consider patterns and practices that preserve and restore important functions performed by natural playa systems on the Llano Estacado. The SITES v2 Rating System™ aims to do just that, but its broadly generalizable system may create challenges when applied to unique hydrologic systems, like playas, that do not exhibit traditional linear streamflow dynamics. This paper examines the functions and services performed by playa lakes, the impacts urbanization has on these systems, the fitness of the SITES v2 Rating System™ to address these systems, and approaches to achieving SITES certification in the context of playa lake hydrologic systems on the Llano Estacado and achieving maximum credit points in Section 3: Site Design – Water.