The U.S Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and in collaboration with the Root River Municipal Stormwater Permit Group monitored eight urban source areas representing six types of source areas in or near Madison, Wis. in an effort to improve characterization of particle-size distributions in urban stormwater by use of fixed-point sample collection methods. The types of source areas were parking lot, feeder street, collector street, arterial street, rooftop, and mixed use. This information can then be used by environmental managers and engineers when selecting the most appropriate control devices for the removal of solids from urban stormwater.
Mixed-use and parking-lot study areas had the lowest median particle sizes (42 and 54 (u or mu)m, respectively), followed by the collector street study area (70 (u or mu)m). Both arterial street and institutional roof study areas had similar median particle sizes of approximately 95 (u or mu)m. Finally, the feeder street study area showed the largest median particle size of nearly 200 (u or mu)m. Median particle sizes measured as part of this study were somewhat comparable to those reported in previous studies from similar source areas. The majority of particle mass in four out of six source areas was silt and clay particles that are less than 32 (u or mu)m in size.
Distributions of particles ranging from <2 to >500 (u or mu)m were highly variable both within and between source areas. Results of this study suggest substantial variability in data can inhibit the development of a single particle-size distribution that is representative of stormwater runoff generated from a single source area or land use. Continued development of improved sample collection methods, such as the depth-integrated sample arm, may reduce variability in particle-size distributions by mitigating the effect of sediment bias inherent with a fixed-point sampler.