Results of national In situ mapping of Potential Toxic Elements in green infrastructure

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Abstract

Stormwater runoff can contain high amounts of Potential Toxic Elements (PTE) as heavy metals. PTE can have negative and direct impact on the quality of surface waters and groundwater. The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) demands enhanced protection of the aquatic environment. As a consequence, the WFD requires municipalities and water authorities to address the emissions from drainage systems adequately and to take action when these emissions affect the quality of receiving waters together with mitigating the quantity challenges in a changing climate (floodings and drought).
NBS 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. The research results are of great importance for all stakeholders in (inter)national cities that are involved in climate adaptation.
Applying Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) or Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) are known to improve the water quality in the urban water cycle. The efficiency of NBS, such as the capability of bio swales to trap PTE, highly depends on the dimensions of the facility and on its implementation in the field [Woods Ballard, B et al, 2015]. For the determination of the removal efficiency of NBS information about stormwater quality and characteristics is essential. Acquiring the following information is strongly advised [Boogaard et al. 2014]:
1. stormwater quality levels (method: stormwater quality database);
2. location of NBS (method: mapping NBS in international database);
3. behaviour of pollutants (method: cost effective mapping pollutants in the field).

Stormwater quality contains pollutants as heavy metal in higher concentrations than water quality standards dictate. Over 500 locations with bio swales are mapped in the Netherlands which is a fraction of stormwater infiltration locations implemented in 20 years’ time. Monitoring of all these NBS would acquire high capacity and budget from the Dutch resources.
This quick scan XRF mapping methodology of topsoil will indicate if the topsoil is polluted and whether the concentrations exceed national or international standards. This was only the case in one of the youngest pilots in Utrecht indicating that there are multiple factors other than age (traffic intensity, use of materials, storage volume, maintenance, run off quality, etc.). Several locations show unacceptable levels, above the national thresholds for pollutants where further research on the prediction of these levels in relation to multiple factors will be the subject of future research.
The results of study are shared in 2 national workshops and valued as of great importance for all stakeholders in (inter)national cities that are involved in implementation of NBS for climate adaptation.
The Dutch research results will be used to update (inter-)national guidelines for design, construction and maintenance of infiltration facilities this year. Stormwater managers are strongly advised to use this quick scan method within the first 10 years after implementation of swales to map possible pollution of the top soil and prevent pollution to spread to the groundwater in urban areas.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
EventEcocity World Summit - Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 22 Feb 202224 Feb 2022
https://ecocity-summit.com/

Conference

ConferenceEcocity World Summit
Country/TerritoryNetherlands
CityRotterdam
Period22/02/2224/02/22
Internet address

Keywords

  • clean and healthy air
  • water and soil
  • NBS
  • SuDS
  • stormwater quality
  • bio swales
  • pollution
  • nature-based solutions
  • resilient urban development
  • education
  • communication and awareness

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