Abstract

Considering the diversity of pollution degree in different underlying surfaces, and the great difficulty in construction and high economic cost for an existing built community in an older city zone, in order to rationally distribute the load carrying capacity of each treatment facility, a design concept of combined rainwater treatment system was put forward to treat vehicle lane rainwater, square rainwater, and roof rainwater. In this study, one older city zone in Guangming new district, north-western Shenzhen, China was selected to meet the combined treatment of vehicle lane rainwater and roof rainwater, and four typical rainfall events were selected to analyze the water quantity and water quality control effect of this combined rainwater treatment system under different rainfall intensity and rainfall duration. Results showed that under the treatment of initial treatment facility and biological filtration facility, the runoff volume of vehicle lane and roof were all controlled effectively, and the discharge amount of different pollutants was also reduced effectively although initial treatment facility and biological filtration facility could not effectively decrease pollutant concentration. Therefore, this combined treatment of vehicle lane rainwater and roof rainwater can provide reference for the popularization and application of different kinds of combined rainwater treatment systems.

INTRODUCTION

In recent years, climate change and ecosystem pollution have seriously affected the ability of our cities to resist adversity. Meanwhile, the free expansion of urbanization has increasingly aggravated urban waterlogging, water resources shortage, and water environment pollution. Many cities, including Beijing, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Hangzhou, and Nanchang have frequently experienced these problems, which damage the lives of urban residents (Zhang et al. 2012; Aichele & Andresen 2013; Zhang & Weng 2016). In 2014, China proposed a ‘sponge city’ construction program to solve the environmental threats to urban centers. Sponge city describes cities that are able to adapt flexibly to changes in the environment, such that they permeate, store, and purify rainwater, and are able to make use of the stored rainwater when needed (Shao et al. 2016). Unlike the traditional concept of stormwater management, the core of a sponge city is the low impact development (LID) concept. Suitable management facilities for LID include green roofs, permeable pavements, rainwater gardens, bioretention facilities, grassed swales, and so on (Brattebo & Booth 2003; Mentens et al. 2006; Chai et al. 2014).

The construction of the sponge city should be evaluated comprehensively from the aspects of economic affordability, urgency, capital utilization efficiency, construction time series, and social influence (Liu 2016; Wang et al. 2018). In order to avoid blind and comprehensive digging in the old city, we should proceed from the actual situation, in order to solve urban waterlogging, rainwater collection and utilization, control of black-odor water body as breakthrough, combined with the urban shanty area and the urban and rural housing reform, the old district organic renewal, and so on. The reform measures commonly used at home and abroad are to make full use of the existing green space and building roofs with LID technology to improve the capacity of the old urban area to reduce rainstorm water, but there are still some problems to be solved. The main problem facing the old urban green roof reconstruction is that most of the roofs are unrepaired, the conditions of load bearing and drainage are poor, and there are many private facilities on the roofs. If the increasing greening load exceeds the range that the roof can bear, the light causes leakage of the roof cracks, and the weight may cause the collapse of the house. If the roof drainage is not smooth, it is easy to surround the house area with water when heavy rainfall is encountered, vegetation is affected by water and waterlogging, and the weight of the rainfall will even lead to a sharp increase of roof load. In addition, the roofs of urban stock buildings have a large proportion of sloping roof, making it difficult to meet the slope requirements of green roofs (Getter et al. 2007; Xiao et al. 2014). In the transformation of most old residential areas, the transformation of pervious pavements mainly adopts the form of ‘structural permeable’. The concrete brick used in structural pervious pavements is not permeable and is only water permeable through the brick seams. It is necessary to build roads before building houses; otherwise, it may lead to blockage of permeable roads during construction. Thus, how to limit the time difference between road construction and housing construction and closely monitor road characteristics is the key to achieving good results. In addition, considering the influence of pavement construction on pedestrians and vehicles, it is difficult to popularize permeable pavements (Kayhanian et al. 2012; Kia et al. 2017). Therefore, suitable methods to treat runoff rainwater of existing older city zones are constructing rainwater gardens, bioretention facilities, and grass swales on the existing green space, which could effectively avoid the above problems.

In an older city zone, the area of road and roof occupies a large proportion, thus the pollution degree of road and roof should be analyzed clearly before taking corresponding treatment measures. Ren et al. (2008) used 31 rainstorm events from June 2004 to August 2005 to analyze rainwater runoff samples from roofs and roads on a campus and from a ring road with heavy traffic. The results found that total suspended solids (TSS) and total phosphorus (TP) from roads were significantly higher than those from roofs, and chemical oxygen demand (COD) and total nitrogen (TN) from the ring road were higher than those from roads. Farreny et al. (2011) selected and monitored the runoff of one flat gravel roof and three pitched roofs (metal sheet, clay tiles, and polycarbonate plastic) over a period of two years, and found that all pollutants except for ammonia nitrogen (NH4+) from the flat gravel roof were higher than those from the three pitched roofs because of the processes of roof weathering, particle deposition, and plant colonization. Lee et al. (2012) analyzed the influence of different roofing materials (clay tiles, concrete tiles, galvanized steel, and wooden shingle tiles) on harvested rainwater quality, and found the galvanized steel roof was the most suitable for a rainwater catchment system due to ultraviolet light and the high temperature effectively disinfecting the harvested rainwater. Wei et al. (2010) investigated the distributions of routine pollutants and the variation of their species in short-term rainstorm runoff from different underlying surfaces in Xiamen, and found the runoff concentrations of organic matter, nutrients (N and P) and heavy metals in parking lots and roads were significantly higher than those from roofs. Angrill et al. (2017) studied the influence of different urban surface applications (pedestrian and motorized mobility) and materials (slab, asphalt, and concrete) on the harvested rainwater quantity and quality in a university campus in Barcelona, and found the concrete-built urban surface presented a good runoff rainwater quality for most physicochemical indicators. Mendez et al. (2011) studied the quality of harvested rainwater from five pilot-scale roofs in Austin according to their materials (asphalt fiberglass shingle, Galvalume, concrete tile, unfertilized green, bituminous membrane cool), and found that harvested rainwater from the Galvalume metal roof tends to have lower concentrations of Escherichia coli as compared to other roof materials, and dissolved organic carbon concentrations of shingle and green roofs were very high. Hou & Zhang (2014) used six rainstorm events from July to August 2011 to analyze chemically and further investigate rainfall runoff from an asphalt felt roof and asphalt pavement road. The results showed that water quality is best for precipitation, followed by roof and road asphalt pavement runoffs, and found that the runoff from asphalt pavement road without pro-treatment processes cannot be used as a direct rainwater supply for car washing, green irrigation, or artificial fountains.

At present, the majority of researchers mention separate treatment of runoff rainwater from different underlying surfaces, and the treated runoff rainwater being collected for irrigation and other applications. However, this mode is bound to increase rainwater treatment processes and costs, which is not convenient for daily management and maintenance (Ghosh & Head 2009; Guan et al. 2013; Woltersdorf et al. 2014). Considering the diversity of pollution degree in different underlying surfaces, and the great difficulty in construction and high economic costs for an existing built community in the older city zone, in order to rationally distribute the load carrying capacity of each biological treatment facility, this paper presents a combined rainwater treatment system design, construction, and operation in one older city zone of Guangming new district, north-western Shenzhen, China. The main objective of this research was to present the water quantity and water quality control effect of the combined treatment system of vehicle lane rainwater and roof rainwater.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Design concept

In order to analyze the treatment effect of the combined rainwater treatment system, a design concept is put forward in this paper. The schematic diagram of the combined rainwater treatment system is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Schematic diagram of combined rainwater treatment system.

Figure 1

Schematic diagram of combined rainwater treatment system.

This combined rainwater treatment system includes rainwater collection facilities, initial treatment facility, the first biological filtration facility, the second biological filtration facility, and the third biological filtration facility. The rainwater collection facilities include pavement open channel, square pipe and roof rainwater pipe, which are used to collect vehicle lane rainwater, square rainwater and roof rainwater. The initial treatment facility consists of a gravel wall and grass swale, and the grass swale from bottom to top comprises a slag layer, fine sand layer, modified soil layer, and lawn. The first biological filtration facility, second biological filtration facility, and third biological filtration facility have the same internal structure. The biological filtration facility includes a biological filtration filter tank and collecting well. The biological filtration filter tank is followed by a gravel layer, earthwork cloth, slag layer, fine sand layer, modified soil layer, and lawn. The gravel layer is buried with a perforated tube, and the perforated tube is connected to a collecting well. The gravel layer is covered with an earthwork cloth to collect descending water. Through the above structure, this combined rainwater treatment system can rationally distribute the load carrying capacity of each treatment facility, and reduce the operation and maintenance cost of a rainwater treatment system.

Experiment setting

At present, the layout of existing community rainwater pipelines generally follow the principle of take full advantage of terrain and discharge into the nearest water body. For the purpose of this study, one older city zone in Guangming new district, north-western Shenzhen, China was selected to meet the combined treatment of vehicle lane rainwater and roof rainwater. A scenario diagram of the combined runoff rainwater treatment system is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2

Scenario diagram of combined rainwater treatment system.

Figure 2

Scenario diagram of combined rainwater treatment system.

In this older city zone, the vehicle lane and roof were built more than ten years ago, and the material used in the vehicle lane and roof was cement concrete and asphalt, respectively. Considering the slope and degree of damage to the vehicle lane and roof, the catchment area of the vehicle lane and roof selected in this study was 80 and 110 m2, respectively. The initial treatment facility was grass swale, with a size of L × B × H = 500.0 × 15.0 × 50.0 cm. The corresponding thickness of slag layer, fine sand layer, and modified soil layer in this grass swale was 10, 20, and 20 cm, respectively. The first biological filtration facility and the third biological filtration facility have the same amount of occupied area and internal structure. The occupied area of the first biological filtration facility was 10 m2, and the corresponding thickness of the gravel layer, slag layer, fine sand layer, and modified soil layer of the biological filtration filter tank was 10, 20, 5, and 20 cm, respectively. The occupied area of the collecting well in every biological filtration facility was 0.16 m2, with a size of L × B = 40.0 × 40.0 cm. The height of the artificial rainfall device in this combined rainwater treatment system was 2.0 m.

Analyses

The sampling points in this study were located in the water inlet and overflow port of the initial treatment facility, the first biological filtration facility, and the third biological filtration facility. The collecting well in every biological filtration facility was used to collect descending water. During the operation period of the combined rainwater treatment system, water samples of influent and effluent from each treatment facility were collected periodically and analyzed. The indicated water quality parameters were tested periodically and analyzed according to different methods. Suspended solid (SS) was measured according to the Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. Samples were analyzed with the standardized photometric cuvette tests from Hach-Lange for COD. TN was measured by the persulphate digestion and oxidation-double wavelength method. TP was measured colorimetrically by the persulfate digestion-molybdophosphate reaction method. Removal efficiencies were obtained by calculating the percentages of corresponding pollutant removal from the influent concentrations (APHA 2005; Li et al. 2011).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

In total, 15 storm events in this study were monitored. Of the 15 storm events, eight storm events produced measurable runoff volume from the overflow port of the third biological filtration facility, and the remainder were completely captured and infiltrated by the initial treatment facility, the first biological filtration facility, and the third biological filtration facility. In order to analyze the water quantity and water quality control effect of this combined rainwater treatment system under different rainfall intensity and rainfall duration, four typical rainfall events were selected in this study.

Runoff variation

The rainfall data and runoff volume of different sampling points are shown in Table 1.

Table 1

Rainfall data and runoff volume of different sampling points

Sampling date Rainfall type Rainfall amount (mm) Rainfall duration (min) Antecedent dry days (d) Runoff volume (m3)
 
Runoff volume reduction ratio (%) 
Water outlet of vehicle lane open channel Overflow port of initial treatment facility Water outlet of roof rainwater pipe Overflow port of the third biological filtration facility 
13 March Bi-peak 14.0 60 0.98 0.75 1.25 0.60 73.09 
18 May Mid-peak 13.3 49 0.95 0.80 1.21 0.86 60.18 
4 August Bi-peak 37.9 140 2.73 2.43 3.26 3.72 37.90 
22 September Well distribution 21.3 84 1.53 1.31 1.82 1.60 52.24 
Sampling date Rainfall type Rainfall amount (mm) Rainfall duration (min) Antecedent dry days (d) Runoff volume (m3)
 
Runoff volume reduction ratio (%) 
Water outlet of vehicle lane open channel Overflow port of initial treatment facility Water outlet of roof rainwater pipe Overflow port of the third biological filtration facility 
13 March Bi-peak 14.0 60 0.98 0.75 1.25 0.60 73.09 
18 May Mid-peak 13.3 49 0.95 0.80 1.21 0.86 60.18 
4 August Bi-peak 37.9 140 2.73 2.43 3.26 3.72 37.90 
22 September Well distribution 21.3 84 1.53 1.31 1.82 1.60 52.24 

Table 1 shows that the initial treatment facility and biological filtration facility all had a better control effect on runoff volume, and the runoff volume reduction ratio of this combined rainwater treatment system could reach 37.90% to 73.09%. It could be concluded from the first two rainfall data, on the premise of neglecting rainfall type, with the increase of antecedent dry days, water content in soil before rainfall decreased, which led to the increase of infiltration rate (Assouline & Mualem 2003; Lopez-Vicente et al. 2015). This would enhance the runoff control effect of this combined system, and the runoff volume reduction ratio increased from 60.18% to 73.09% when the antecedent dry days increased from 1 to 9 days. It can be seen from the first and third rainfall data that the increase of rainfall amount and rainfall duration were beneficial in strengthening the control effect of the initial treatment facility and biological filtration facility on runoff volume, which makes up for the adverse effects of low antecedent dry days on controlling runoff volume (Zhang et al. 2008; Biddoccu et al. 2014). However, due to the limited storage capacity of this combined rainwater treatment system, the runoff volume reduction ratio of the third rainfall was only 37.90%, which is much lower than the first rainfall. By comparing the runoff control effect of this combined system in four rainfalls, we can see that the influence of rainfall type on the runoff volume reduction ratio is lower than rainfall amount, rainfall duration, and antecedent dry days.

Water quality variation

The change curves of SS, COD, TN, and TP in different sampling ports are shown in Figures 36.

Figure 3

Change curves of SS, COD, TN, and TP on 13 March.

Figure 3

Change curves of SS, COD, TN, and TP on 13 March.

Figure 4

Change curves of SS, COD, TN, and TP on 18 May.

Figure 4

Change curves of SS, COD, TN, and TP on 18 May.

Figure 5

Change curves of SS, COD, TN, and TP on 4 August.

Figure 5

Change curves of SS, COD, TN, and TP on 4 August.

Figure 6

Change curves of SS, COD, TN, and TP on 22 September.

Figure 6

Change curves of SS, COD, TN, and TP on 22 September.

Figures 36 show that the change curve of SS in the vehicle lane open channel has a good relationship with rainfall process. With the increase of rainfall intensity, the scouring action of the vehicle lane was enhanced, which led to the increase of SS concentration (James & Alexander 1998; Ran et al. 2013). Due to the hindering effect of stacked items on runoff, there was no significant relationship between the change curve of SS in roof rainwater and rainfall process. Under the retention and adsorption function of plants and soil, SS was removed when runoff flowed through the initial treatment facility and biological filtration facility (Xuan & Zhang 2013; Lucke et al. 2014). The effluent SS concentration of the third biological filtration facility in four rainfalls were all maintained at 20–50 mg/L, which exceeds the limit value in ‘Reclaimed Water Quality of Municipal Wastewater for Scenic Environment Use’ (GB/T18921-2002). At the same time, the initial treatment facility and biological filtration facility both had a certain removal effect on COD, TN, and TP. On the one hand, the correlation between SS and COD, TN and TP led to the removal of pollutants simultaneously (Zhang et al. 2010; Wang et al. 2012), and the correlation between SS and COD, TN and TP in different sampling points is shown in Table 2. On the other hand, leaching action led to partial composition of surface soil entering the water body, which decreased the removal efficiency of COD, TN, and TP (Augustin & Viero 2012; Kuoppamaki & Lehvavirta 2016). Finally, the overflow effluent concentration of TN and TP from the third biological filtration facility was maintained at 0.684–1.221 mg/L and 0.080–0.253 mg/L, respectively, which satisfies the limit value in ‘Reclaimed Water Quality of Municipal Wastewater for Scenic Environment Use’.

Table 2

Correlation between SS and COD, TN and TP in different sampling points

Sampling date Water outlet of vehicle lane open channel
 
Water outlet of roof rainwater pipe
 
SS and COD SS and TN SS and TP SS and COD SS and TN SS and TP 
13 March 0.74 0.56 0.41 0.77 0.42 0.40 
18 May 0.75 0.60 0.56 0.79 0.70 0.40 
4 August 0.82 0.54 0.49 0.62 0.68 0.52 
22 September 0.42 0.45 0.43 0.53 0.65 0.63 
Sampling date Water outlet of vehicle lane open channel
 
Water outlet of roof rainwater pipe
 
SS and COD SS and TN SS and TP SS and COD SS and TN SS and TP 
13 March 0.74 0.56 0.41 0.77 0.42 0.40 
18 May 0.75 0.60 0.56 0.79 0.70 0.40 
4 August 0.82 0.54 0.49 0.62 0.68 0.52 
22 September 0.42 0.45 0.43 0.53 0.65 0.63 

The analysis showed that the water quality of roof runoff was better than initial treatment facility runoff, and the effluent time of roof rainwater pipe runoff was earlier than the initial treatment facility runoff, which may lead to initial treatment facility runoff being directly discharged without the treatment of the third biological filtration facility. In order to solve this problem, measures can be taken to prolong the residence time of rain on the roof, such as raising the height of the roof outfall (Kang et al. 2016). In addition, a sand settling zone in the inlet of the third biological filtration facility, not only can alleviate the above problems, but also make the effluent SS concentration of the third biological filtration facility close to the limit value in ‘Reclaimed Water Quality of Municipal Wastewater for Scenic Environment Use’. All in all, although the initial treatment facility and biological filtration facility cannot effectively decrease the concentration of various pollutants, the weight of various pollutants can be effectively reduced. The discharge amount of SS in different sampling points of this combined rainwater treatment system in four typical rainfall events is shown in Table 3.

Table 3

Discharge amount of SS in different sampling points

Sampling date SS emission (g)
 
Reduction rate of SS emission (%) 
Water outlet of vehicle lane open channel Overflow port of initial treatment facility Water outlet of roof rainwater pipe Overflow port of the third biological filtration facility 
13 March 81.29 58.75 37.18 32.79 72.32 
18 May 114.16 79.20 26.87 39.51 71.98 
4 August 108.99 88.50 84.52 91.16 52.89 
22 September 87.27 76.73 85.10 94.42 45.22 
Sampling date SS emission (g)
 
Reduction rate of SS emission (%) 
Water outlet of vehicle lane open channel Overflow port of initial treatment facility Water outlet of roof rainwater pipe Overflow port of the third biological filtration facility 
13 March 81.29 58.75 37.18 32.79 72.32 
18 May 114.16 79.20 26.87 39.51 71.98 
4 August 108.99 88.50 84.52 91.16 52.89 
22 September 87.27 76.73 85.10 94.42 45.22 

CONCLUSIONS

The combined rainwater treatment system was proposed to treat vehicle lane rainwater and roof rainwater, and one older city zone in Guangming new district, north-western Shenzhen was selected to carry out the relevant experimental research. Under the treatments of initial treatment facility and biological filtration facility, the runoff volume reduction ratio of this combined rainwater treatment system in four typical rainfall events reached 37.90% to 73.09%, and the reduction rate of SS emission of this combined rainwater treatment system in these four rainfall events reached 45.22% to 72.32%.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The work reported here was financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (51908199), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2019M652547), Scientific Research Starting Foundation of Henan Normal University (qd18019), China State Water Pollution Control and Harnessing of the Major Projects (2010ZX07320-001).

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