INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background

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1 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background The overall aim of the recently agreed European Union Water Framework Directive is the protection and enhancement of all surface waters and groundwater in the European Union, including achievement of "good" water quality, defined with reference to the ecological and chemical status of waters, by 2015 at the latest. A key objective of the directive is a progressive reduction in harmful emissions to water, where harmful is defined as that which prevents water achieving its beneficial use. The directive takes a combined approach to pollution control, establishing water quality objectives for water bodies, and setting emission limit values for pollutants to underpin pollution control mechanisms. The directive also requires that waters are managed by river basin, the natural geographical or hydrological unit, instead of by administrative or political boundaries as presently occurs in many EU countries. This management process must be supported by a "river basin management plan", which must include an assessment of the impact of human activity on receiving waters. As part of the impact assessment, which can be based on modelling, the directive requires that member states estimate and identify significant point and diffuse pollution from urban, industrial, agricultural and other sources, and take appropriate action to limit these emissions if they are considered to be harmful to receiving waters. There is strong evidence that addressing point sources only will not be sufficient to achieve the desired water quality objectives and beneficial uses. In Scotland, for example, 20% of all river reaches in the poor water quality class are attributed to urban drainage (sewage overflows account for 12%, sewage treatment works 21%) (SEPA, 1996). In the USA, urban diffuse pollution is the fourth most important cause of river pollution of rivers, and the third most important source of lake pollution (Novotny and Olem, 1994). Whilst it is a relatively straightforward task to identify and estimate emissions from point sources, making the implementation of appropriate control options simpler, the nature of diffuse sources means that estimation of emissions carried by surface runoff, and implementation of control options is, by comparison, much more difficult. This is particularly evident in urban areas where land use and land cover characteristics are highly variable, and discharge is more intermittent and "flashy" than that of non-urban areas, making water quality monitoring and control more demanding. In recent years, innovative measures for controlling diffuse urban pollution have become increasingly popular, including structural source control techniques (filter strips and swales, filter drains and permeable surfaces, infiltration devices, basins and ponds) and best management practices (BMP's), which inform the wider process of implementing these sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS). Whilst advice is now available on identifying feasible locations for source controls at a site level (Butler et al., 1998), or for implementing source controls for new developments (CIRIA, 2000), there is little guidance on which sites are most significant in terms of diffuse urban loads, and hence which are most deserving of pollution abatement mechanisms, particularly within the context of a large urbanised river basin. Understandably, SUDS initiatives are currently focussed on new developments, where there are opportunities to build in source control techniques from the earliest planning and design stages. However, the majority of diffuse urban loads come from existing urban developments, hence consideration must inevitably be given to "retro-fitting" these areas with appropriate source control techniques if emissions are considered harmful. This requires that urban areas contributing the greatest loads are identified, to permit targeting of BMP and possible source control implementation. The assessment should take place at the basin scale in the first instance, and be used to guide more detailed assessments focussed on identified priority areas. 7

2 1.2 Aim and Objectives The aim of this research is to develop a nonpoint source preliminary assessment model suitable for application in UK urban river basins. The model should be capable of mapping the location of urban areas producing the poorest stormwater 2 quality runoff; identifying those areas which present the greatest hazard to receiving waters; and of assessing the impact of land use change on nonpoint source runoff quality. The model can therefore be used in identifying urban areas where desired development will present the least risk to runoff quality, and more importantly assist in targeting resources used in remedial surface management programmes (i.e. assist in source control location). The research should therefore assist planners and regulators in identifying areas in existing built environments where source control techniques and best management practices (BMP s) would have the most beneficial impact in remediating urban diffuse pollution. This goal is important as even were source controls installed in all new developments, it would not lead to improvement in receiving water quality, but merely prevent further deterioration. Thus in order to meet desired water quality objectives and beneficial use standards, retrofitting of existing developments is required. These goals will be met through completion of the following objectives: (a) Identify priority non-point source urban pollutants, and those urban catchment characteristics which determine pollutant yields (Sections 2 and 5); (b) Identify indicators of the relevant catchment characteristics (Sections 3 and 4) and populate a GIS with appropriate data for the selected pilot conurbation (Section 6); (c) Build cartographic models of pollutant loads based on the urban catchment characteristics identified in (b) above (Section 7.3); (d) Integrate modelled loads using a hazard index approach (section 7.4); (e) Produce GIS based thematic maps of urban water quality hazard (Section 7.4); and (f) Assess the effect on water quality hazard of changes in catchment characteristics arising from future urban development (Section 7.5). 1.3 Definition of Stormwater and Urban Diffuse Pollution Stormwater and urban diffuse pollution are commonly used terms but which are subject to a variety of interpretations, hence it is necessary to define how the term is used in this report. Pollution can be defined simply as a product of human activities that result in an undesirable or harmful change in the quality of receiving media. In practice this can be difficult to define as it is not always possible to differentiate between human induced and natural loads of materials. In addition, assimilative capacities of receiving media also vary according to local circumstances (e.g. buffering capacities, climate, presence of other pollutants), and threshold levels beyond which deleterious effects on organisms occur are often unknown or poorly understood. For the purposes of this study, pollutants are considered simply as materials which are known to originate as a result of human activities, and which have potential to cause degradation of receiving waters. The definition of diffuse or nonpoint pollution is more problematic. Conventionally, nonpoint source pollution has been defined in terms of pollutant source characteristics with everything that is not discharged from a point source considered a nonpoint or diffuse source. In rural areas this has proved a workable definition for most purposes. However, in urban developments, runoff from areas is collected through gutters, sewers and a variety of other 2 Stormwater is here defined as the runoff from urban surfaces only (measured at catchment outflow or flow at the head of a separate sewer system), discharge that can be addressed by source control techniques. 8

3 conveyances before being discharged at one or more points to receiving waters. This gives runoff from urban areas characteristics of point source pollution. Mixing of stormwater with industrial and household point source discharges in combined sewers further compounds the difficulty of defining urban stormwater and diffuse sources. In the USA, definitions of diffuse sources are further complicated by issues surrounding pollution abatement. Novotny (1994) describes how, under the US constitution, government can order the control of all point sources that discharge to navigable waters, but where land rights remain firmly with the owners, making abatement measures for nonpoint sources very difficult to apply. This situation led the US Congress to broaden the definition of point sources to such an extent (i.e. point source means any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance.from which pollutants are or may be discharged), that virtually all urban drainage is legally defined as originating from point sources. Table 1-1 outlines the statutory definitions of point and nonpoint pollutant sources that operate in the USA today. This very clear differentiation is made on legal grounds, but it is apparent that, from a technical perspective there several point sources (e.g. industrial sites not connected to sewers, storm sewer outfalls in urban centres with a population > 100,000) may be appropriately considered as diffuse sources. No comparable definitions operate under EU legislation. Table 1-1. Statutory definitions of point and nonpoint pollutant sources in the USA POINT SOURCE POLLUTION Municipal and industrial wastewater effluent Combined sewer overflows Storm sewer outfalls in urban centres with a population > 100,000 Runoff from industrial sites not connected to storm sewers Runoff and leachate from solid waste disposal sites Runoff from construction sites larger than 2 hectares Runoff and drainage water from active mines, both open cast and underground Other sources, including discharges from storage tanks and chemical storage piles Runoff and infiltrated water from concentrated animal feeding operations NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION Return flow from irrigated agriculture, and runoff from other agricultural, pastoral and silvicultural activities not including concentrated animal operations Urban runoff from sewered communities of <100,000 not degrading water quality Urban runoff from unsewered areas Runoff from construction sites < 2 ha Wet and dry atmospheric deposition Flow from abandoned mines Transport networks Deforestation and logging Wetland drainage and conversion Other miscellaneous activities occurring on land that generate contamination and waste. Water Quality Act, Section , U.S. Congress, These difficulties have led urban drainage modellers to the conclusion that a precise definition of diffuse pollution is important only from a legal perspective, and that for the purposes of modelling a less exacting technical definition will suffice (Nix, 1994; Novotny and Olem, 1994), based on characteristics of the pollutant sources, including source characteristics, landuse/land-use activities, source abatement and pollution control measures (Table 1-2). The most significant differences between point and nonpoint sources are that (i) diffuse pollution arises over an extensive area of land in response to distributed polluting activities or conditions, and is in transit overland before it reaches surface or ground waters, and (ii) that diffuse discharges enter these receiving waters in a diffuse (or multiple point) manner at intermittent intervals largely related to the incidence of meteorological events. 9

4 Table 1-2. Characteristics of Point and Nonpoint Source Pollution POINT SOURCE POLLUTION NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION Source characteristic Pollutants discharged from a single source at a discrete point Pollutants entering water at many locations from many sources, distributed diffusely over an area. Activity origins Usually associated with the use and disposal of water for industrial, commercial or municipal purposes Discharges are non-random, and may be consistent from place to place between similar activities Usually associated with runoff from random precipitation events or with movement of ground water Significant place to place variation due to geologic and geographic conditions Source abatement Readily monitored, usually in water Pollution can feasibly be abated and/or controlled through regulatory permits, inspections, monitoring and compliance processes, voluntary compliance, or regulation Difficult or impossible to monitor. Monitoring that occurs is usually on land Usually best prevented by modifying activities, practices or operations on the land, or by changing land use activities, either through the use of financial incentives, voluntary compliance or regulation. Pollution control mechanism Usually controlled through use of wastewater treatment technologies to remove pollutants before discharge Usually controlled by reducing or preventing availability, release, or transport of pollutants that adversely affect water quality NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation 1990 (in Nix, 1994); Novotny & Olem (1994) This study therefore adopts a similar premise to many other urban diffuse pollution studies which define diffuse pollution simply as that which is not, from a technical perspective, point source pollution. Field surveys of UK urban catchments have shown that drainage from surface water sewer outfalls has a significant impact on the ecological quality of receiving waters, with the impact most severe for industrial and highways sites, and less severe for residential and mixed sites (Payne and Hedges, 1990; Anon, 1993). Whilst planning procedures and remedial measures are available to address point sources and combined sewers, planning measures to address surface runoff quality are less well developed. The study therefore aims to address the principal sources of pollutants that are transported on the urban catchment surface and which are mobilised by meteorological events. Stormwater quality data measured within separate sewers is used in the analysis, but data relating to combined sewers which convey waste water from domestic and industrial activities together with surface stormwater are specifically excluded. In addressing surface water drainage only the research is consistent with the objectives of Best Management Practices (including source and treatment controls) designed to address urban runoff problems (volume and quality) by controlling surface runoff. 10

5 1.4 Structure of the Report Section 1 introduces the study beginning with a brief description of the urban nonpoint source pollution problem, and the implications for the study of the EU Water Framework Directive, released towards the end of the project. The aims and objectives of the study are presented, and the rationale for addressing stormwater, defined as urban surface drainage, is outlined. Section 2 identifies a provisional list of significant nonpoint source pollutants to address in a screening model, based on their prevalence in stormwater, environmental impact, relevance to water quality standards, and characteristics of the chosen UK study site. The consistency of this approach with that of the Water Framework Directive simple risk assessment procedure is outlined. Section 3 reviews nonpoint source stormwater quality modelling methods from which it is concluded that statistical volume-concentration methods, in particular those using event mean concentration (EMC) values are the most appropriate techniques for a basin wide screening level application. The volume-concentration methods estimate non-point loads as the product of runoff volume and an emission coefficient, the site event mean concentration (site EMC), and make use of the widely reported observation that EMC is independent of discharge volume. Section 4 reviews runoff models concluding with the selection of a nonpoint source discharge volume method specifically suited to a UK application. Section 5 gives an overview of the development of an EMC database, and presents the recommended stormwater quality values for application in the volume-concentration method. Full details of the EMC database and derivation of recommended values are presented in a companion report (Mitchell, 2001). The development of the EMC database allows the provisional list of pollutants of interest identified in section 2 to be refined. Section 6 describes the development of the database to the study site, and development of the GIS-model and supporting program code. Section 7 describes how modelled loads are expressed as hazard, by reference to emission limit values defined according to water quality standards of receiving waters. Results of the load and hazard mapping for the study basin are presented. Sections 8 presents conclusions and recommendations. 11

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