Sewer systems convey mostly dry weather flow, coming from domestic and industrial sanitary sewage as well as infiltration flow, and stormwater due to meteoric precipitations. Traditionally, in urban drainage two types of sewer systems are adopted: separate and combined sewers. The former convey dry and wet weather flow separately into two different networks, while the latter convey dry and wet weather flow together. Which is the best solution in terms of cost-benefit analysis still remains a controversial subject. The present study was aimed at comparing the pollution loads discharged to receiving bodies by Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) for different kinds of sewer systems (combined and separate). To accomplish this objective, a comparison between the two systems was carried out using results from simulations of catchments characterised by different dimensions, population densities and water supply rate. The analysis was based on a parsimonious mathematical model able to simulate the sewer system as well as the WWTP during both dry and wet weather. The rain series employed for the simulations was six years long. Several pollutants, both dissolved and particulate, were modelled. The results confirmed the uncertainties in the choice of one system versus the other, emphasising the concept that case-by-case solutions have to be undertaken. Further, the compared systems showed different responses in terms of effectiveness in reducing the discharged mass to the RWB in relation to the particular pollutant taken into account.

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