One of the most important causes for poor water quality in urban rivers in Brazil is the low collection efficiency of the sewer system due to unforeseen interconnections with the stormwater drainage system. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Brazilian cities have adopted separate systems for sanitary sewers and stormwater runoff. Gradually these two systems became interconnected. A major challenge faced today by water managers in Brazil is to find efficient and low cost solutions to deal with this mixed system. The current situation poses an important threat to the improvement of the water quality in urban rivers and lakes. This article presents an evaluation of the water quality parameters and the diffuse pollution loads during rain events in the Pinheiros River, a tributary of the Tietê River in São Paulo. It also presents different types of integrated solutions for reducing the pollution impact of combined systems, based on the European experience in urban water management. An evaluation of their performance and a comparison with the separate system used in most Brazilian cities is also presented. The study is based on an extensive water quality monitoring program that was developed for a special investigation in the Pinheiros River and lasted 2.5 years. Samples were collected on a daily basis and water quality variables were analyzed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Two hundred water quality variables were monitored at 53 sampling points. During rain events, additional monitoring was carried out using an automated sampler. Pinheiros River is one of the most important rivers in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region and it is also a heavily polluted one.

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