Nutrients build-up and wash-off processes in urban land uses

Miguntanna, Nandika Prasadani (2009) Nutrients build-up and wash-off processes in urban land uses. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis describes outcomes of a research study conducted to investigate the nutrient build-up and wash-off processes on urban impervious surfaces. The data needed for the study was generated through a series of field investigations and laboratory test procedures. The study sites were selected in urbanised catchments to represent typical characteristics of residential, industrial and commercial land uses. The build-up and wash-off samples were collected from road surfaces in the selected study sites. A specially designed vacuum collection system and a rainfall simulator were used for sample collection. According to the data analysis, the solids build-up on road surfaces was significantly finer with more than 80% of the particles below 150 ìm for all the land uses. Nutrients were mostly associated with the particle size range below 150 ìm in both build-up and wash-off samples irrespective of type of land use. Therefore, the finer fraction of solids was the most important for the nutrient build-up and particulate nutrient wash-off processes. Consequently, the design of stormwater quality mitigation measures should target particles less than 150 ìm for the removal of nutrients irrespective of type of land use. Total kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) was the most dominant form of nitrogen species in build-up on road surfaces. Phosphorus build-up on road surfaces was mainly in inorganic form and phosphate (PO4 3-) was the most dominant form. The nutrient wash-off process was found to be dependent on rainfall intensity and duration. Concentration of both total nitrogen and phosphorus was higher at the beginning of the rain event and decreased with the increase in rainfall duration. Consequently, in the design of stormwater quality mitigation strategies for nutrients removal, it is important to target the initial period of rain events. The variability of wash-off of nitrogen with rainfall intensity was significantly different to phosphorus wash-off. The concentration of nitrogen was higher in the wash-off for low intensity rain events compared to the wash-off for high intensity rain events. On the other hand, the concentration of phosphorus in the wash-off was high for high intensity rain events compared to low intensity rain events. Consequently, the nitrogen washoff can be defined as a source limiting process and phosphorus wash-off as a transport limiting process. This highlights the importance of taking into consideration the wash-off of low intensity rain events in the design of stormwater quality mitigation strategies targeting the nitrogen removal. All the nitrogen species in wash-off are primarily in dissolved form whereas phosphorus is in particulate form. The differences in the nitrogen and phosphorus wash-off processes is principally due to the degree of solubility, attachment to particulates, composition of total nitrogen and total phosphorus and the degree of adherence of the solids particles to the surface to which nutrients are attached. The particulate nitrogen available for wash-off is removed readily as these are mobilised as free solids particles on the surface. Phosphorus is washed-off mostly with the solids particles which are strongly adhered to the surface or as the fixed solids load. Investigation of the nitrogen wash-off process using bulk wash-off samples was in close agreement with the investigation of dissolved fraction of wash-off solids. This was primarily due to the predominant nature of dissolved nitrogen. However, the investigation of the processes which underpin phosphorus wash-off using bulk washoff samples could lead to loss of information. This is due to the composition of total phosphorus in wash-off solids and the inherent variability of the wash-off process for the different particle size ranges. This variability should preferably be taken into consideration as phosphorus wash-off is predominantly in particulate form. Therefore, care needs to be taken in the investigation of the phosphorus wash-off process using bulk wash-off samples to ensure that there is no loss of information and hence result in misleading outcomes. The investigation of different particle size ranges of wash-off solids is preferable in the interest of designing effective stormwater quality management strategies targeting phosphorus removal.

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ID Code: 31236
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Goonetilleke, Sobana, Egodawatta, Prasanna, & Kokot, Serge
Keywords: nutrients build-up process, nutrients wash-off process, urban stormwater quality, urban water quality, urban water pollution
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 09 Mar 2010 04:55
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:55

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