Characterization and source identification of stormwater runoff in tropical urban catchments

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The characteristics of urban stormwater pollution in the tropics are still poorly understood. This issue is crucial to the tropical environment because its rainfall and runoff generation processes are so different from temperate regions. In this regard, a stormwater monitoring program was carried out at three urban catchments (e.g. residential, commercial and industrial) in the southern part of Peninsular Malaysia. A total of 51 storm events were collected at these three catchments. Samples were analyzed for total suspended solids, 5-day biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand (COD), oil and grease, nitrate nitrogen, nitrite nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N), soluble reactive phosphorus and total phosphorus. Principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical cluster analysis were used to interpret the stormwater quality data for pattern recognition and identification of possible sources. The most likely sources of stormwater pollutants at the residential catchment were from surface soil and leachate of fertilizer from domestic lawns and gardens, whereas the most likely sources for the commercial catchment were from discharges of food waste and washing detergent. In the industrial catchment, the major sources of pollutants were discharges from workshops and factories. The PCA factors further revealed that COD and NH3-N were the major pollutants influencing the runoff quality in all three catchments.

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