Port of Brisbane stormwater quality : stage 1 rainfall simulation to evaluate pollutant build-up and wash-off from selected land uses

Goonetilleke, Ashantha & Egodawatta, Prasanna K. (2008) Port of Brisbane stormwater quality : stage 1 rainfall simulation to evaluate pollutant build-up and wash-off from selected land uses.


Background: The quality of stormwater runoff from ports is significant as it can be an important source of pollution to the marine environment. This is also a significant issue for the Port of Brisbane as it is located in an area of high environmental values. Therefore, it is imperative to develop an in-depth understanding of stormwater runoff quality to ensure that appropriate strategies are in place for quality improvement.

The Port currently has a network of stormwater sample collection points where event based samples together with grab samples are tested for a range of water quality parameters. Whilst this information provides a ‘snapshot’ of the pollutants being washed from the catchment/s, it does not allow for a quantifiable assessment of total contaminant loads being discharged to the waters of Moreton Bay. It also does not represent pollutant build-up and wash-off from the different land uses across a broader range of rainfall events which might be expected. As such, it is difficult to relate stormwater quality to different pollutant sources within the Port environment.

Consequently, this would make the source tracking of pollutants to receiving waters extremely difficult and in turn the ability to implement appropriate mitigation measures. Also, without this detailed understanding, the efficacy of the various stormwater quality mitigation measures implemented cannot be determined with certainty.

Current knowledge on port stormwater runoff quality

Currently, little knowledge exists with regards to the pollutant generation capacity specific to port land uses as these do not necessarily compare well with conventional urban industrial or commercial land use due to the specific nature of port activities such as inter-modal operations and cargo management. Furthermore, traffic characteristics in a port area are different to a conventional urban area. Consequently, as data inputs based on an industrial and commercial land uses for modelling purposes is questionable.

A comprehensive review of published research failed to locate any investigations undertaken with regards to pollutant build-up and wash-off for port specific land uses. Furthermore, there is very limited information made available by various ports worldwide about the pollution generation potential of their facilities. Published work in this area has essentially focussed on the water quality or environmental values in the receiving waters such as the downstream bay or estuary.

The Project: The research project is an outcome of the collaborative Partnership between the Port of Brisbane Corporation (POBC) and Queensland University of Technology (QUT). A key feature of this Partnership is the undertaking of ‘cutting edge’ research to strengthen the environmental custodianship of the Port area. This project aims to develop a port specific stormwater quality model to allow informed decision making in relation to stormwater quality improvement in the context of the increased growth of the Port.

Stage 1 of the research project focussed on the assessment of pollutant build-up and wash-off using rainfall simulation from the current Port of Brisbane facilities with the longer-term objective of contributing to the development of ecological risk mitigation strategies for future expansion scenarios. Investigation of complex processes such as pollutant wash-off using naturally occurring rainfall events has inherent difficulties. These can be overcome using simulated rainfall for the investigations.

The deliverables for Stage 1 included the following: * Pollutant build-up and wash-off profiles for six primary land uses within the Port of Brisbane to be used for water quality model development. * Recommendations with regards to future stormwater quality monitoring and pollution mitigation measures.

The outcomes are expected to deliver the following benefits to the Port of Brisbane: * The availability of Port specific pollutant build-up and wash-off data will enable the implementation of customised stormwater pollution mitigation strategies. * The water quality data collected would form the baseline data for a Port specific water quality model for mitigation and predictive purposes.

* To be at the cutting-edge in terms of water quality management and environmental best practice in the context of port infrastructure.

Conclusions: The important conclusions from the study are: * It confirmed that the Port environment is unique in terms of pollutant characteristics and is not comparable to typical urban land uses. * For most pollutant types, the Port land uses exhibited lower pollutant concentrations when compared to typical urban land uses. * The pollutant characteristics varied across the different land uses and were not consistent in terms of the land use. Hence, the implementation of stereotypical structural water quality improvement devices could be of limited value.

* The <150m particle size range was predominant in suspended solids for pollutant build-up as well as wash-off. Therefore, if suspended solids are targeted as the surrogate parameter for water quality improvement, this specific particle size range needs to be removed.

Recommendations: Based on the study results the following preliminary recommendations are made: * Due to the appreciable variation in pollutant characteristics for different port land uses, any water quality monitoring stations should preferably be located such that source areas can be easily identified. * The study results having identified significant pollutants for the different land uses should enable the development of a more customised water quality monitoring and testing regime targeting the critical pollutants. * A ‘one size fits all’ approach may not be appropriate for the different port land uses due to the varying pollutant characteristics. As such, pollution mitigation will need to be specifically tailored to suit the specific land use. * Any structural measures implemented for pollution mitigation to be effective should have the capability to remove suspended solids of size <150m. * Based on the results presented and the particularly the fact that the Port land uses cannot be compared to conventional urban land uses in relation to pollutant generation, consideration should be given to the development of a port specific water quality model.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 34273
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Keywords: Stormwater quality, Rainfall simulation, Pollutant build-up, Pollutant wash-off, Port water quality
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (090700) > Environmental Engineering Design (090701)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (090700) > Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified (090799)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Ashantha Goonetilleke and Prasanna Egodawatta
Deposited On: 29 Aug 2010 23:49
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2010 23:49

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