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Port of Brisbane stormwater quality : stage 2 development of a port specific water quality model

Egodawatta, Prasanna K. & Goonetilleke, Ashantha (2009) Port of Brisbane stormwater quality : stage 2 development of a port specific water quality model.


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, where necessary. To this end, the Port of Brisbane Corporation aimed to develop a port specific stormwater model for the Fisherman Islands facility. The need has to be considered in the context of the proposed future developments of the Port area.

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 that it seeks to undertake research to assist the Port in strengthening the environmental custodianship of the Port area through ‘cutting edge’ research and its translation into practical application.

The project was separated into two stages. The first stage developed a quantitative understanding of the generation potential of pollutant loads in the existing land uses. This knowledge was then used as input for the stormwater quality model developed in the subsequent stage. The aim is to expand this model across the yet to be developed port expansion area. This is in order to predict pollutant loads associated with stormwater flows from this area with the longer term objective of contributing to the development of ecological risk mitigation strategies for future expansion scenarios.

Study approach: Stage 1 of the overall study confirmed that Port land uses are unique in terms of the anthropogenic activities occurring on them. This uniqueness in land use results in distinctive stormwater quality characteristics different to other conventional urban land uses. Therefore, it was not scientifically valid to consider the Port as belonging to a single land use category or to consider as being similar to any typical urban land use.

The approach adopted in this study was very different to conventional modelling studies where modelling parameters are developed using calibration. The field investigations undertaken in Stage 1 of the overall study helped to create fundamental knowledge on pollutant build-up and wash-off in different Port land uses. This knowledge was then used in computer modelling so that the specific characteristics of pollutant build-up and wash-off can be replicated. This meant that no calibration processes were involved due to the use of measured parameters for build-up and wash-off.

Conclusions: Stage 2 of the study was primarily undertaken using the SWMM stormwater quality model. It is a physically based model which replicates natural processes as closely as possible. The time step used and catchment variability considered was adequate to accommodate the temporal and spatial variability of input parameters and the parameters used in the modelling reflect the true nature of rainfall-runoff and pollutant processes to the best of currently available knowledge.

In this study, the initial loss values adopted for the impervious surfaces are relatively high compared to values noted in research literature. However, given the scientifically valid approach used for the field investigations, it is appropriate to adopt the initial losses derived from this study for future modelling of Port land uses. The relatively high initial losses will reduce the runoff volume generated as well as the frequency of runoff events significantly. Apart from initial losses, most of the other parameters used in SWMM modelling are generic to most modelling studies.

Development of parameters for MUSIC model source nodes was one of the primary objectives of this study. MUSIC, uses the mean and standard deviation of pollutant parameters based on a normal distribution. However, based on the values generated in this study, the variation of Event Mean Concentrations (EMCs) for Port land uses within the given investigation period does not fit a normal distribution. This is possibly due to the fact that only one specific location was considered, namely the Port of Brisbane unlike in the case of the MUSIC model where a range of areas with different geographic and climatic conditions were investigated. Consequently, the assumptions used in MUSIC are not totally applicable for the analysis of water quality in Port land uses.

Therefore, in using the parameters included in this report for MUSIC modelling, it is important to note that it may result in under or over estimations of annual pollutant loads. It is recommended that the annual pollutant load values given in the report should be used as a guide to assess the accuracy of the modelling outcomes. A step by step guide for using the knowledge generated from this study for MUSIC modelling is given in Table 4.6.

Recommendations: The following recommendations are provided to further strengthen the cutting edge nature of the work undertaken: * It is important to further validate the approach recommended for stormwater quality modelling at the Port. Validation will require data collection in relation to rainfall, runoff and water quality from the selected Port land uses. Additionally, the recommended modelling approach could be applied to a soon-to-be-developed area to assess ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenarios.

  • In the modelling study, TSS was adopted as the surrogate parameter for other pollutants. This approach was based on other urban water quality research undertaken at QUT. The validity of this approach should be further assessed for Port land uses.

  • The adoption of TSS as a surrogate parameter for other pollutants and the confirmation that the <150 m particle size range was predominant in suspended solids for pollutant wash-off gives rise to a number of important considerations. The ability of the existing structural stormwater mitigation measures to remove the <150 m particle size range need to be assessed. The feasibility of introducing source control measures as opposed to end-of-pipe measures for stormwater quality improvement may also need to be considered.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 34274
Item Type: Report
Keywords: Stormwater quality, Pollutant build-up, Pollutant wash-off, Water quality modelling, 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 Modelling (090702)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Prasanna Egodawatta and Ashantha Goonetilleke
Deposited On: 30 Aug 2010 09:44
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2010 09:44

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