Influence of rainfall and catchment characteristics on urban stormwater quality

Liu, An (2011) Influence of rainfall and catchment characteristics on urban stormwater quality. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis presents the outcomes of a comprehensive research study undertaken to investigate the influence of rainfall and catchment characteristics on urban stormwater quality. The knowledge created is expected to contribute to a greater understanding of urban stormwater quality and thereby enhance the design of stormwater quality treatment systems. The research study was undertaken based on selected urban catchments in Gold Coast, Australia. The research methodology included field investigations, laboratory testing, computer modelling and data analysis. Both univariate and multivariate data analysis techniques were used to investigate the influence of rainfall and catchment characteristics on urban stormwater quality. The rainfall characteristics investigated included average rainfall intensity and rainfall duration whilst catchment characteristics included land use, impervious area percentage, urban form and pervious area location. The catchment scale data for the analysis was obtained from four residential catchments, including rainfall-runoff records, drainage network data, stormwater quality data and land use and land cover data. Pollutants build-up samples were collected from twelve road surfaces in residential, commercial and industrial land use areas. The relationships between rainfall characteristics, catchment characteristics and urban stormwater quality were investigated based on residential catchments and then extended to other land uses. Based on the influence rainfall characteristics exert on urban stormwater quality, rainfall events can be classified into three different types, namely, high average intensity-short duration (Type 1), high average intensity-long duration (Type 2) and low average intensity-long duration (Type 3). This provides an innovative approach to conventional modelling which does not commonly relate stormwater quality to rainfall characteristics. Additionally, it was found that the threshold intensity for pollutant wash-off from urban catchments is much less than for rural catchments. High average intensity-short duration rainfall events are cumulatively responsible for the generation of a major fraction of the annual pollutants load compared to the other rainfall event types. Additionally, rainfall events less than 1 year ARI such as 6- month ARI should be considered for treatment design as they generate a significant fraction of the annual runoff volume and by implication a significant fraction of the pollutants load. This implies that stormwater treatment designs based on larger rainfall events would not be feasible in the context of cost-effectiveness, efficiency in treatment performance and possible savings in land area needed. This also suggests that the simulation of long-term continuous rainfall events for stormwater treatment design may not be needed and that event based simulations would be adequate. The investigations into the relationship between catchment characteristics and urban stormwater quality found that other than conventional catchment characteristics such as land use and impervious area percentage, other catchment characteristics such as urban form and pervious area location also play important roles in influencing urban stormwater quality. These outcomes point to the fact that the conventional modelling approach in the design of stormwater quality treatment systems which is commonly based on land use and impervious area percentage would be inadequate. It was also noted that the small uniformly urbanised areas within a larger mixed catchment produce relatively lower variations in stormwater quality and as expected lower runoff volume with the opposite being the case for large mixed use urbanised catchments. Therefore, a decentralised approach to water quality treatment would be more effective rather than an "end-of-pipe" approach. The investigation of pollutants build-up on different land uses showed that pollutant build-up characteristics vary even within the same land use. Therefore, the conventional approach in stormwater quality modelling, which is based solely on land use, may prove to be inappropriate. Industrial land use has relatively higher variability in maximum pollutant build-up, build-up rate and particle size distribution than the other two land uses. However, commercial and residential land uses had relatively higher variations of nutrients and organic carbon build-up. Additionally, it was found that particle size distribution had a relatively higher variability for all three land uses compared to the other build-up parameters. The high variability in particle size distribution for all land uses illustrate the dissimilarities associated with the fine and coarse particle size fractions even within the same land use and hence the variations in stormwater quality in relation to pollutants adsorbing to different sizes of particles.

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15 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 48324
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Goonetilleke, Sobana & Egodawatta, Prasanna
Keywords: catchment characteristics, hydrologic modelling, rainfall characteristics, urban stormwater quality, stormwater quality modelling
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 Jan 2012 02:01
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2012 02:02

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