This study is part of a continued effort to assess the effects of urban stormwater recharge on the water quality of the Biscayne aquifer in southeast Florida. In this report, the water-quality effects on shallow ground water resulting from stormwater disposal by exfiltration trench and grassy swale were investigated at two small commercial areas in Dade County, Florida. One study area (airport ) was located near the Miami International Airport and had a drainage area of about 10 acres overlying a sandy soil; the other study area ( free zone ) was located at the Miami International Free Trade Zone and had a drainage area of about 20 acres overlying limestone. The monitoring design for each study area consisted of seven sites and included water-quality sampling of the stormwater in the catch basin of the exfiltration trench, ground water from two wells 1 foot from the trench (trench wells), two wells 20 feet from the trench, and ground water from two wells at the swale from April 1985 through May 1986. Eleven water-quality variables (target variables) commonly found in high levels in urban stormwater runoff were used as tracers to estimate possible changes in ground-water quality that may have been caused by stormwater recharge.
Comparison of the distribution of target variables indicated that the concentrations tended to be greater in the stormwater in the exfiltration trench than in water from the two wells 1 foot from the trench at both study areas. The concentration difference for several target variables was statistically significant at the 5-percent level. Lead, for example, had median concentrations of 23 and 4 micrograms per liter, respectively, in stormwater and water from the two trench wells at the airport study area, and 38 and 2 micrograms per liter, respectively, in stormwater and groundwater at the free zone. Similar reductions in concentrations between stormwater and water from the two trench wells were indicated for zinc at both study areas and also for nitrogen, phosphorus, and organic content at the free zone. This trend suggested that the exfiltration trench at both study areas may function as a partial trap for some chemical substances present in stormwater.
A comparison of the distribution of the 11 target variables and major ionic composition in water from the two trench wells and the two wells 20 feet from the trench did not indicate a notable horizontal stratification at either study area. A vertical difference between 10 and 15 feet, however, was indicated at the free zone with major ions in greater concentrations at 15 feet. The vertical variability in groundwater near the trench at the free zone may have been the result of stormwater dilution in the upper (10-foot ) zone.
The groundwater quality at the swale was quite dissimilar to that near the exfiltration trench at both the airport and free zone study areas. Data indicated that the groundwater environment at both sales was anaerobic as evidenced by abundant ammonia nitrogen and iron and trace levels of sulfate. Anaerobic conditions at the swale may have been the result of poor drainage and high organic content of soils. Significant biochemical cycling in the ground water at the swales precluded any assessment of quality effects that may result from storm-water infiltration.
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USGS Numbered Series
Effects of two stormwater management methods on the quality of water in the upper Biscayne aquifer at two commercial areas in Dade County, Florida