Urban runoff quality in the River Sowe catchment
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This research identifies the contaminants found during a series of storm events impacting on the River Sherbourne culvert, and discusses the relationship between them and the increased flow measured The methodology was divided into 3 Phases; Phase 1 examined all of the watercourses in the River Sowe catchment, and identified the culverted streams and drainage system giving an indication of the presence of pollutant sources. Continuous monitors were deployed within the four identified drainage systems to pinpoint intermittent and illegal contaminated discharges, and these discharges were subsequently redirected to the foul sewer or stopped. Phase 2 examined the quality of the River Sherbourne culvert upstream and downstream of the city centre, and demonstrated (using continuous monitors and automated sampling), that six combined sewer overflows discharging to the watercourse upstream of the culvert were operating unsatisfactorily. The dissolved oxygen levels were significantly reduced during rainfall events (with a loss of diurnal variation), and total ammonium levels exceeded current water quality standards. The results were used to instigate a remediation scheme to replace the overflows with additional foul sewerage capacity, and a single high-level storm relief. Phase 3 examined the impact of urban runoff during rainfall events after the improvements made following Phases 1 and 2. The results suggest a marked improvement in the water quality, with little impact from organic pollutants. Dissolved oxygen concentrations remained high during many of the post-remedial rainfall events, and ammonia levels remained largely insignificant. The results indicated a fall in pH levels during the rainfall events and increases in all of the heavy metals analysed, though not beyond current water quality guidelines. The efficiency of using continuous monitoring in Coventry was assessed and likely sources of the contaminants in urban runoff were considered. The statistics of compliance with percentile standards do not allow for short-term pollution or storm events, which may kill all aquatic life whilst not breaching water quality standards. Using continuous monitors to identify intermittent and illegal discharges in underground drainage systems was an efficient and cost-effective method of reducing the impact of urban runoff in a failing watercourse. The methodology can be applied to other urban areas to identify unidentified illegal and intermittent point sources.