Hydrodynamic separators have been employed as combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the UK since the early 1960s. Since little was known of their operating characteristics, Severn Trent Water Authority contracted Aston University to monitor the performance of a separator constructed during 1986-87 at James Bridge, Walsall, UK. Unfortunately only three overflow events were fully documented during the monitoring period, which was particularly dry. One separator was therefore artificially charged by pumping from the adjacent river to simulate storm flow conditions. A model study was not included in the original proposal, but one was established to complement the main programme since the characteristics of hydrodynamic separators were poorly understood.

The arrangement of the field site is described, and the results from the monitored storm events, pump tests and model studies are summarised. Characteristics derived from the model study are combined with sewage settling velocity grading curves to predict the performance of the prototype hydrodynamic separator for one of the observed storm events. Given the limitations inherent in the sewage data used, a comparison of the predicted and observed separator efficiencies demonstrates the potential of this approach for the design and selection of CSOs for specific locations.