In situ mapping of pollutants in Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, a new methodology approach and preliminary results from the Netherlands

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Stormwater runoff has severe negative and direct impact on the quality of surface waters and groundwater. The impact can cause chemical and heavy-metal pollution. Applying well established methods to map pollutants in urban areas and specifically in Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), such as Sustainable Urban
Drainage Systems (SuDS) is a step towards improving the water quality in the urban water cycle. Traditional mapping of pollutants by the means of soil samples is costly, which is the main reason why the environmental-technical functioning of rainwater facilities has not been investigated on a large scale and
systematically. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a known analysing method for finding metals and other components, for laboratory analysis and portable instruments. In this work we propose a new approach of mapping method for pollutants in-situ, such as heavy metals in soil in SuDS, with case studies from the
Netherlands where swales were implemented 20 years ago. In situ XRF measurements is a quick and costefficient analysis for heavy meatal mapping in the respect to contaminated soil. In situ XRF measures of various elements, including heavy metals is carried out in a quickscan and accurate manner and measures both qualitatively and quantitatively. It makes the time-consuming and costly interim analyses by laboratories superfluous. In this study, we suggest a new methodology approach for in situ mapping of pollutants in various swales that were implemented from 20 to 5 years ago. The results differ due to multiple factors (age, use of materials, storage volume, maintenance, run off quality, etc.). Several locations reached unacceptable levels, above the national thresholds for pollutants. The spatial distribution of pollutants in the over 30 swales mapped in the Netherlands show that the preferred water flow in the
SuDS controls the spreading of pollutants. The swales investigated are presented in an interactive way with the open source tool, containing more than 100 swales, part of which has been investigated with in situ XRF measurements. The research results are of great importance for all stakeholders in (inter)national cities that are involved in climate adaptation. SuDS is the most widely used method for storing stormwater and infiltrating in the Netherlands. However, there is still too little knowledge about the long-term functioning of the soil of these facilities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2019
EventCities, Rain & Risk - Malmo, Malmö, Sweden
Duration: 13 Jun 201914 Jun 2019


ConferenceCities, Rain & Risk
Internet address


  • drainage systems
  • pollutants


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