Combined sewer systems contain a large number of organic and inorganic pollutants from both domestic and industrial sources. These pollutants are often retained within the combined sewer system for significant lengths of time before entering sewage treatment works, or being spilt to a watercourse via a combined sewer overflow (CSO) during storm conditions. Currently little knowledge exists concerning the effects of in sewer processes on pollutants. Understanding of in-sewer processes is important for the effective and efficient design of treatment works and CSO chambers and for impact assessments on receiving waters.

A series of studies covering storm and dry weather flow conditions were undertaken with the aim of investigating the nature of in-sewer processes. These studies consisted of marking a body of water with a fluorescent tracer. The tracer was then monitored at a series of downstream sites, and discrete samples collected from the body of water as it progressed through the sewer. The samples were analysed for water quality parameters and these results investigated in tandem with the detailed hydraulic information gained through the tracer studies. The results highlight the hydraulic differences between storm and dry weather conditions such as increased travel times and mixing under storm conditions. The Advection Dispersion Equation (ADE) and Aggregated Dead Zone (ADZ) model parameters have been quantified for the tracer data. The ADE mixing coefficient is shown to increase by an order of magnitude for storm conditions. The ADZ dispersive fraction parameter is shown to be approximately constant with flow. Chemical reactions and decay within the sewer system were found to be consistent with oxygen limitation.

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