Potential Toxic Elements in Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems: Is the Soil Quality of Bio-Swales after 10–20 Years Still Acceptable?

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Abstract

Sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) or nature-based solutions (NBSs) are widely implemented to collect, store and infiltrate stormwater. The buildup of pollutants is expected in NBSs, and Dutch guidelines advise monitoring the topsoil of bio-swales every 5 years. In the Netherlands, almost every municipality has implemented bio-swales. Some municipalities have over 300 bio-swales, and monitoring all their NBSs is challenging due to cost and capacity. In this study, 20 locations where bio-swales with ages ranging between 10 and 20 years old were selected for a field investigation to answer the following question: is the soil quality of bio-swales after 10 years still acceptable? Portable XRF instruments were used to detect potential toxic elements (PTEs) for in situ measurements. The results showed that for copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and lead (Pb), 30%, 40% and 25% of the locations show values above the threshold and 5%, 20% and 0% above the intervention threshold, meaning immediate action should be taken. The results are of importance for stakeholders in (inter)national cities that implement, maintain, and monitor NBS. Knowledge of stormwater and soil quality related to long-term health risks from NBS enables urban planners to implement the most
appropriate stormwater management strategies. With these research results, the Dutch guidelines for design, construction, and maintenance can be updated, and stakeholders are reminded that the monitoring of green infrastructure should be planned and executed every 5 years.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalSustainability
Volume16
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • monitoring
  • nature-based solutions
  • stormwater quality
  • ortable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
  • potential toxic elements
  • green infrastructure

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