Highway drainage as a component of metal input into the catchment
thesisposted on 04.04.2011, 09:32 by Yulia S. Zakharova
Highway runoff, as a nonpoint source, may exert significant pollutant load on the catchment. Finding ways to mitigate nonpoint sources of pollutants is a matter of great concern for improving water quality. It was cited by the Environment Agency in 2005 that more than 80% of English rivers were at risk of failing to achieve Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives through diffuse pollution (Faram, 2007; p.14). The presence and behaviour of metals were analysed and compared through seasonal sampling from one of the most trafficked roads in the Midlands, M1. These were compared with other sources: local streams and sewage works. The concentration of metals in stormwater from the M1, three neighbouring rural brooks and three local sewage works, all in the same catchment, were sampled. Three metals (Fe, Cu and Zn) were used as an indicator because of their predominance and potential harmful effect on biodiversity. The data was analysed to establish any links between the total and dissolved metals and standard water quality parameters. The thesis also examines the performance of a standard highway treatment system of interceptor and lagoon for removing metals. The results indicate that evaporation and de-icer salts had the strongest effect on metal concentrations and their solubility in the runoff from the M1. As additional factors, rainfall intensity and antecedent dry weather period (ADWP) had the most important influence on metal concentrations. Fe was always at the highest concentrations for all weather conditions (total and dissolved) and all sampling locations. The results also showed that Fe was affiliated with the particulate matter; however, it was also suggested that it was solubilised by anaerobic conditions. Zntot during wet weather exceeded the environmental quality standards (EQS) both on the M1 and in Woodbrook. The sewage work effluent did not exceed the EQS at any time of sampling. It was also found that Zn solubility was increased by the presence of de-icer salts which released it from the sediment by a process of ion-exchange, as suggested by the literature. Cu concentrations had the most erratic values and varied widely but were in the lowest concentrations compared to other metals. During wet weather Cudis from the M1 runoff exceeded the EQS. It was also concluded that the analytical and sample preservation methods chosen could have an effect on the concentrations of copper. Filtration with recycled glass and pea-gravel was able to remove particles down to 5 μm, but at the typical flow rate (5 m/hr), and solids loading the filters would need regular washing. The adsorption studies showed that metals are more effectively removed by alkaline conditions than acid conditions which release metals into the environment.
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