The first flush phenomenon of urban wet weather discharges is presently a controversial subject. Scientists do not agree with its reality, nor with its influences on the size of treatment works. Those disagreements mainly result from the unclear definition of the phenomenon. The objective of this article is first to provide a simple and clear definition of the first flush and then to apply it to real data and to obtain results about its appearance frequency. The data originate from the French database based on the quality of urban wet weather discharges. We use 80 events from 7 separately sewered basins, and 117 events from 7 combined sewered basins. The main result is that the first flush phenomenon is very scarce, anyway too scarce to be used to elaborate a treatment strategy against pollution generated by urban wet weather discharges.

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