Final Report: Including New Technology into the Investigation of Inappropriate Pollutant Entries into Storm Drainage Systems - A User's Guide

EPA Grant Number: R825427C008
Subproject: this is subproject number 008 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R825427
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Urban Waste Management and Research Center (University New Orleans)
Center Director: McManis, Kenneth
Title: Including New Technology into the Investigation of Inappropriate Pollutant Entries into Storm Drainage Systems - A User's Guide
Investigators: Barbe, Donald , Pitt, Robert E. , Lalor, Melinda Marsh
Institution: University of New Orleans
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: July 1, 1998 through December 31, 1999
RFA: Urban Waste Management & Research Center (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Targeted Research


This project investigated previously developed methods used to identify sources of contaminants in storm drainage systems, plus a review of emerging techniques that may also be useful. The original methods, along with selected new procedures, were tested. The original methods are still recommended as the most useful procedure for identifying contamination of storm drainage systems, with the possible addition of specific tests for E. coli and enterococci and UV absorbance at 228 nm. Most newly emerging methods require exotic equipment and unusual expertise and are therefore not very available, especially at low cost and with fast turn-around times for the analyses. These emerging methods may therefore be more useful for special research projects than for routine screening of storm drainage systems.

Urban stormwater runoff includes waters from many other sources which find their way into storm drainage systems, besides from precipitation. There are cases where pollutant levels in storm drainage are much higher than they would otherwise be because of excessive amounts of contaminants that are introduced into the storm drainage system by various non-stormwater discharges. Additionally, baseflows (during dry weather) are also common in storm drainage systems. Dry-weather flows and wet-weather flows have been monitored during numerous urban runoff studies. These studies have found that discharges observed at outfalls during dry weather were significantly different from wet-weather discharges and may account for the majority of the annual discharges for some pollutants of concern from the storm drainage system.

There have been numerous methods used to investigate inappropriate discharges to storm drainage systems. Pitt, et al. (1983) and Lalor (1994) reviewed many of these procedures and developed a system that municipalities could use for screening outfalls in residential and commercial areas. This research investigated inappropriate discharges into storm drainage systems. It was of most concern to identify toxic or pathogenic sources of water, typically raw sewage or industrial wastewaters, that were being discharged accidentally into the storm drainage system.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Detergent measurements (using methylene blue active substance, MBAS, test methods) were the most successful individual tracer to indicate contaminated water in storm sewerage dry-weather flows. Unfortunately, the MBAS method uses hazardous chloroform for an extraction step. Different detergent components, especially linear alkylbenzene sulphonates (LAS) and linear alkylbenzenes (LAB), have also been tried to indicate sewage dispersal patterns in receiving waters. Boron, a major historical ingredient of laundry chemicals, can also potentially be used. Boron has the great advantage of being relatively easy to analyze using portable field test kits, while LAS requires chromatographic equipment. LAS can be measured using HPLC with fluorescent detection, after solid phase extraction, to very low levels. Fujita, et al. (1998) developed an efficient enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for detecting LAS at levels from 20 to 500 µg/L.

The fluorescent properties of detergents have also been used as a tracer by investigating the fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs), as described by Poiger, et al. (1996) and Kramer, et al. (1996). HPLC with fluorescence detection was used in these studies to quantify very low concentrations of FWAs. The two most frequently used FWAs in household detergents (DSBP and DAS 1) were found at 7 to 21 µg/L in primary sewage effluent and at 3 to 9 µg/L in secondary effluent. Raw sewage contains about 10 to 20 µg/L FWAs. The removal mechanisms in sewage treatment processes is by adsorption to activated sludge. The type of FWAs varies from laundry applications to textile finishing and paper production, making it possible to identify sewage sources. The FWAs were found in river water at 0.04 to 0.6 µg/L. The FWAs are not easily biodegradable but they are readily photodegraded. Photodegradation rates have been reported to be about 7% for DSBP and 71% for DAS 1 in river water exposed to natural sunlight, after one hour exposure. Subsequent photodegradation is quite slow.

Caffeine has been used as an indicator of sewage contamination by several investigators (Shuman and Strand 1996). The King County, WA, Water Quality Assessment Project is examining the impacts of CSOs on the Duwamish River and Elliott Bay. They are using both caffeine (representing dissolved CSO constituents) and coprostanol (representing particulate bound CSO constituents), in conjunction with heavy metals and conventional analyses, to help determine the contribution of CSOs to the river. The caffeine is unique to sewage, while coprostanol is from both humans and carnivorous animals and is therefore also in stormwater. They sampled upstream of all CSOs, but with some stormwater influences, 100 m upstream of the primary CSO discharge (but downstream of other CSOs), within the primary CSO discharge line, and 100 m downriver of the CSO discharge location. The relationship between caffeine and coprostanol was fairly consistent for the four sites (coprostanol was about 0.5 to 1.5 µg/L higher than caffeine). Similar patterns were found between the three metals, chromium was always the lowest and zinc was the highest. King Co. is also using clean transported mussels placed in the Duwamish River to measure the bioconcentration potential of metal and organic toxicants and the effects of the CSOs on mussel growth rates (after 6 week exposure periods). Paired reference locations are available near the areas of deployment, but outside the areas of immediate CSO influence. US Water News (1998) also described a study in Boston Harbor that found caffeine at levels of about 7 µg/L in the harbor water. The caffeine content of regular coffee is about 700 mg/L, in contrast.

Laboratory tests were conducted using many sewage and laundry detergent samples and found that the boron test was a poor indicator of sewage, possibly due to changes in formulations in modern laundry detergents. Other laboratory tests found that fluorescence was an excellent indicator of sewage, especially when using specialized "detergent whitener" filter sets, but was not very repeatable. We also examined several UV absorbance wavelengths as sewage indicators and found excellent correlations with 228 nm, a wavelength having very little background absorbance in local spring waters, but with a strong response factor with increasing strengths of sewage. We recommend that our originally developed and tested protocol still be used as the most efficient routine indicator of sewage contamination of stormwater drainage systems, with the possible addition of specific E. coli and enterococci measurements and UV absorbance at 228 nm. The numerous exotic tests requiring specialized instrumentation and expertise reviewed in this paper do not appear to warrant their expense and long analytical turn-around times, except in specialized research situations.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 1 publications for this subproject

Supplemental Keywords:

storm water, water pollution, urban runoff, cross connections., Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Waste, Municipal, Environmental Chemistry, State, Analytical Chemistry, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, waste minimization, urban runoff, municipal waste, groundwater quality, New Orleans (NO), waste management, technology transfer, outreach, urban waste, storm drainage systems

Relevant Websites: Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 1999

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R825427    Urban Waste Management and Research Center (University New Orleans)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R825427C001 Comprehensive Evaluation of The Dual Trickling Filter Solids Contact Process
    R825427C002 Issues Involving the Vertical Expansion of Landfills
    R825427C003 Deep Foundations on Brownfields Sites
    R825427C004 Ambient Particulate Concentration Model for Traffic Intersections
    R825427C005 Effectiveness of Rehabilitation Approaches for I/I Reduction
    R825427C006 Urban Solid Waste Management Videos
    R825427C007 UWMRC Community Outreach Multimedia Exhibit
    R825427C008 Including New Technology into the Investigation of Inappropriate Pollutant Entries into Storm Drainage Systems - A User's Guide
    R825427C009 Investigation of Hydraulic Characteristics and Alternative Model Development of Subsurface Flow Constructed Wetlands
    R825427C010 Beneficial Use Of Urban Runoff For Wetland Enhancement
    R825427C011 Urban Storm and Waste Water Outfall Modeling
    R827933C001 Development of a Model Sediment Control Ordinance for Louisiana
    R827933C002 Inappropriate Discharge to Stormwater Drainage (Demonstration Project)
    R827933C003 Alternate Liner Evaluation Model
    R827933C004 LA DNR - DEQ - Regional Waste Management
    R827933C005 Landfill Design Specifications
    R827933C006 Geosynthetic Clay Liners as Alternative Barrier Systems
    R827933C007 Used Tire Monofill
    R827933C008 A Comparison of Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Bed (USAB) and the Anaerobic Biofilm Fluidized Bed Reactor (ABFBR) for the Treatment of Municipal Wastewater
    R827933C009 Integrated Environmental Management Plan for Shipbuilding Facilities
    R827933C010 Nicaragua
    R827933C011 Louisiana Environmental Education and Resource Program
    R827933C012 Costa Rica - Costa Rican Initiative
    R827933C013 Evaluation of Cr(VI) Exposure Assessment in the Shipbuilding Industry
    R827933C014 LaTAP, Louisiana Technical Assistance Program: Pollution Prevention for Small Businesses
    R827933C015 Louisiana Environmental Leadership Pollution Prevention Program
    R827933C016 Inexpensive Non-Toxic Pigment Substitute for Chromium in Primer for Aluminum Sibstrate
    R827933C017 China - Innovative Waste Composting Plan for the City of Benxi, People's Rupublic of China
    R827933C018 Institutional Control in Brownfields Redevelopment: A Methodology for Community Participation and Sustainability
    R827933C019 Physico-Chemical Assessment for Treatment of Storm Water From Impervious Urban Watersheds Typical of the Gulf Coast
    R827933C020 Influence of Cyclic Interfacial Redox Conditions on the Structure and Integrity of Clay Liners for Landfills Subject to Variable High Groundwater Conditions in the Gulf Coast Region
    R827933C021 Characterizing Moisture Content Within Landfills
    R827933C022 Bioreactor Landfill Moisture Management
    R827933C023 Urban Water Issues: A Video Series
    R827933C024 Water Quality Modeling in Urban Storm Water Systems
    R827933C025 The Development of a Web Based Instruction (WBI) Program for the UWMRC User's Guide (Investigation of Inappropriate Pollutant Entries Into Storm Drainage Systems)
    R827933C027 Legal Issues of SSO's: Private Property Sources and Non-NPDES Entities
    R827933C028 Brownfields Issues: A Video Series
    R827933C029 Facultative Landfill Bioreactors (FLB): A Pilot-Scale Study of Waste Stabilization, Landfill Gas Emissions, Leachate Treatment, and Landfill Geotechnical Properties
    R827933C030 Advances in Municipal Wastewater Treatment
    R827933C031 Design Criteria for Sanitary Sewer System Rehabilitation
    R827933C032 Deep Foundations in Brownfield Areas: Continuing Investigation
    R827933C033 Gradation-Based Transport, Kinetics, Coagulation, and Flocculation of Urban Watershed Rainfall-Runoff Particulate Matter
    R827933C034 Leaching and Stabilization of Solid-Phase Residuals Separated by Storm Water BMPs Capturing Urban Runoff Impacted by Transportation Activities and Infrastructure
    R827933C035 Fate of Pathogens in Storm Water Runoff
    R87933C020 Influence of Cyclic Interfacial Redox Conditions on the Structure and Integrity of Clay Liners for Landfills Subject to Variable High Groundwater Conditions in the Gulf Coast Region