For a long time people have questioned what the “best” sewer system is for limiting the pollution load released into the receiving waters. In this paper the traditional separate and combined sewer systems are compared using a pollution load balance. The investigation is based on measured concentration data for a range of pollutant parameters in the sewer from the new database “ATV-DVWK Datenpool 2001”. The approach also accounted for the wastewater treatment plant outflow which contributes to the total pollutant load considerably. In spite of a number of neglected effects, the results show that the separate system is superior to the combined for some parameters only, such as nutrients, whereas for other parameters, e.g. heavy metals and COD, the combined system yields less total loads. Any uncritical preference of the separate system as a particularly advantageous solution is thus questionable. Individual investigations case by case are recommended.

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