Water Quality Research Journal of Canada

Vol. 44 (1): 1 - 15 (2009). Innovative Approaches to Stormwater Management in Canada

Evaluation of Mitigation Methods to Manage Contaminant Transfer in Urban Watersheds

   Julia Brydon, Iwata Oh, Julie Wilson, Ken J. Hall, Hans Schreier

Three case studies on trace metal contamination in urban stormwater are presented from the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia. In the first case study, the spatial and temporal variability in trace metals in sediments were determined in the completely urbanized Brunette watershed. A natural lake in the middle of the watershed acts as a sediment detention system, and an analysis of the sediment core showed the historic accumulation of metal and selective organic contaminants in sediments since the early 1800s. Suspended sediments transported during storm events showed significantly higher concentrations of trace metals than bedload sediments, and the largest proportion of the geochemically active metals was found to be associated with the organic-sulphur-based fraction. Benthic organism survival tests showed mixed results with lower survival and growth in urban sediments than in control sediments from a forested watershed. In the second case study, significant correlations were obtained between percent impervious cover and trace metal concentrations in 28 subwatersheds with various degrees of urbanization. It is shown that imperviousness combined with traffic density can significantly improve the prediction of metal contamination in highly urbanized watersheds. In the third case study five urban stormwater detention systems were examined over one year to determine how effective these systems were in removing metal contamination. The results were highly variable depending on a wide range of physical conditions, land use activities, traffic volume, and detention system designs. The range of total metal detention was between -15 to +72% for copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn), while iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn) retention was generally poor. Labile Zn was more effectively retained in four of the five ponds, and a significant relationship was found between percent imperviousness, traffic volume, and Zn concentrations in water, sediment, and labile form.

cumulative effect, detention ponds, diffusive gradients in thin fi lms (DGT), imperviousness, sediment quality, trace metals

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