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The impact of storm water runoff on a small urban stream

Karlaviciene, V., Svediene, S., Marciulioniene, D. E., Randerson, Peter Frederick, Rimeika, M. and Hogland, W. 2009. The impact of storm water runoff on a small urban stream. Journal of Soils and Sediments 9 (1) , pp. 6-12. 10.1007/s11368-008-0038-9

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Background, aim, and scope: In urban areas, storm water runoff often transports various pollutants, some of which settle and form sediments. In order to have the comprehensive view of the ecological state of storm water runoff recipients, both water and sediments of the stream must be assessed. In the Baltic Sea Area, the Water Framework Directive & HELCOM Recommendations aim to prevent or minimise pollution caused by harmful substances arising from storm water runoff, in order to promote the ecological restoration of the Baltic Sea—one of the most vulnerable seas. The aim of the study was to investigate the toxicity of bottom sediments of a small storm water runoff recipient focusing on the potential impact of successive discharges of urban storm water. Some storm water runoff quality parameters and the toxicity of bottom sediments of recipients was studied in this research. Materials and methods: During 9 years, at four discharge points, minimum four grab samples per year at each discharge point were taken for chemical characterisation. General parameters (pH, SS, BOD7, CODCr and TPH) in liquid phase samples were analysed according to standard methods. Annual limit values were taken from the Lithuanian EPA requirements for the management of storm water runoff with a focus on prevention and control of contamination. Eleven composite samples of stream bottom sediments, each consisting of ten sub-samples, were collected in 2006. Toxicity screening from sediments was performed using the plant Lepidium sativum according to modified I. Magone’s methodology (Magone I, Bioindication of phytotoxicity of transport emission. In: Kachalova O-L, Zinatne (eds) Bioindication of toxicity of transport emissions in the impact of highway emissions on natural environment. Riga, pp 108–116, 1989). The level of toxic impact of Lepidium sativum (compared to control) was assessed according to the modified method of Wang (Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 126:88–127, 1992). Results: The mean pH of urban storm water runoff does not vary much from neutral, but range values are quite different, from 4.0 up to 8.7. The highest concentration of SS reached 800 mg L−1, TPH—2.4 mg L−1, BOD7—300 mg O2 L−1 and CODCr—1,400 mg L−1. The SS was above the limit in 64% of total amount of grab samples, TPH—37%, BOD7—41% and CODCr—55%. The toxicity analysis of the bottom sediments showed varying toxicity of bottom sediments along the stream. From nine analysed samples of bottom sediments, 30% had weak toxicity, 30% medium and 30% strong toxicity on the test organism plant L. sativum. There was one single sample with no toxic effects, so that the results showed that urban storm water has an unacceptable environmental impact on recipients. It was also indicated that storm water runoff discharge alone is not the potential source of toxicity of bottom sediments. The litter demonstrated a weak toxicity of bottom sediments as well. Discussion: Most local authorities do not consider storm water runoff discharges to be a matter of great concern because they believe that surface runoff arising from rainfall is still relatively clean. The study showed that the current method of monitoring storm water runoff quality by chemical analyses is not the best tool for environmental impact assessment and must be combined with toxicity tests of bottom sediments of recipients. Recommendations and perspectives: To avoid the environmental impact of storm water runoff more attention should be paid to the development and implementation of storm water runoff pollution prevention measures. The study implies that future research concerning the relationships between storm water runoff deposit characteristics and biological activities must be developed to evaluate the contamination potential of stream sediment deposits for local aquatic ecosystems. Further studies should be developed to characterise the activities of the microbial community of storm water runoff sediments, and to monitor bioremediation in situ.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1439-0108
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:06

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