Quality of Wisconsin stormwater, 1989-94

Open-File Report 96-458

Prepared in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
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Water-quality data were compiled from four urban stormwater monitoring projects conducted in Wisconsin between 1989 and 1994. These projects included monitoring in both storm-sewer pipes and urban streams. A total of 147 constitu ents were analyzed for in stormwater sampled from 10 storm-sewer pipes and four urban streams. Land uses represented by the storm-sewer watersheds included residential, commercial, industrial, and mixed. For about one-half the con stituents, at least 10 percent of the event mean con centrations exceeded the laboratory's minimum reporting limit. Detection frequencies were greater than 75 percent for many of the heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in both the storm sewer and stream samples, whereas detec tion frequencies were about 20 percent or greater for many of the pesticides in both types of sam ples. Stormwater concentrations for conventional constituents, such as suspended solids, chloride, total phosphorus, and fecal coliform bacteria were greater than minimum reporting limits almost 100 percent of the time. Concentrations of many of the constituents were high enough to say that stormwater in the storm sewers and urban streams might be contrib uting to the degradation of the streams. In this report, constituents defined as potential contami nants are those for which the laboratory minimum report limit was exceeded for at least 10 percent of the sampled storm events, and for which at least one event mean concentration exceeded an estab lished water-quality standard. Storm-sewer sam ples had event mean concentrations of lead, copper, zinc, cadmium, and silver that frequently exceeded Wisconsin's acute toxicity criteria for cold water fisheries. Wisconsin's human cancer criteria was exceeded almost 100 percent of the time for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in stormwater samples from storm sewers and streams. Maximum concentrations of diazinon found in storm sewers exceeded recommended levels of diazinon. Storm-sewer samples also exceeded Wisconsin's ground-water enforcement standards for pesticides, PCB's, phthalates, and chloride. Defined by criteria in this report, poten tial contaminants included five metals (lead, zinc, copper, silver, and cadmium), nine polycyclic aro matic hydrocarbons, Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, four pesticides (DDT, atrazine, alachlor, and 2,4 D), suspended solids, chlorides, total phosphorus, BOD 5-day, and bacteria. Wisconsin stormwater quality was similar to stormwater quality monitored in other states. Nearly one-half of median concentrations of con stituents in Wisconsin stormwater were within 30 percent of the medians from other states. The clos est agreement was seen for biochemical oxygen demand, total phosphorus, and total recoverable zinc. Similarities in stormwater quality for the storm sewer and urban streams indicated the storm sewers were a major source of water to the streams during storm events. Concentrations of potential contaminants in urban streams increased dramati cally during storm events as compared to baseflow concentrations.

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USGS Numbered Series
Quality of Wisconsin stormwater, 1989-94
Series title:
Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Wisconsin Water Science Center
iv, 26 p.
United States
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