Fecal coliform bacteria (and pathogens), high flow rates, sediment, toxic heavy metals and organic pollutants are most commonly associated with urban receiving water problems. Most beneficial uses have been shown to be adversely affected by urban runoff, including shell fish harvesting, fish and aquatic life propagation, drinking water supplies, aesthetics and recreation. Most of the problems occur over long periods of time and are not associated with individual runoff events, making cause and effect relationships difficult to study.

The Storm and Combined Sewer Program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sponsored several long-term research projects to investigate these problems, along with data reviews to identify urban runoff problems from available information. Current research efforts are stressing sources and controls for toxicants in urban runoff.

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