For more than a decade, research carried out in Scotland has investigated the movement of sediment in sewers and the associated pollutant release. Pollution by discharges from combined sewer overflows can adversely affect watercourses, particularly those in urban areas. Solids and dissolved contaminants, many derived from in-sewer deposits during a storm event, can be especially significant. This phenomenon can occur during events known as ‘foul flushes’. In combined sewers these typically occur in the initial period of storm flows, when the concentration of suspended sediments and other pollutants is significantly higher than at other times. It has become apparent that much of the suspended load originates from solids eroded from the bed. The ‘near bed solids’ which are re-entrained into the flow, together with solids eroded from the bulk bed, account for large changes in the suspended sediment concentration under time varying flow conditions. This paper describes some of the methods employed to investigate the solids eroding in combined sewers during peak flow events. The work examined the potential for sediment re-suspension under high flow conditions both in the laboratory and in the field.

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