Identifying sources of contaminants in urban stormwater and evaluation of their removal efficacy across a continuum of urban best management practices

Urban stormwater is a substantial source of trace organic contaminants to aquatic ecosystems. However, sources of these contaminants to urban stormwater are poorly understood as is the efficacy of treatment technologies. 

We propose to use molecular techniques (eDNA) to identify sources of trace organic contaminants (Activity 1), a necessary first step in source reduction. By identifying human, canine and ungulate-associated fecal bacteria in stormwater, we will determine whether trace organic contaminants originated from leaking sewer pipes, pet waste, or urban ungulate populations.

In addition, we propose to assess contaminant removal efficacy across a continuum of stormwater treatment technologies (Activity 2) to provide actionable information to resource managers. Specifically, we plan to sample inflow, outflow, and shallow groundwater associated with traditional stormwater ponds, iron-enhanced sand filtration ponds and underground infiltration BMPs. Our education specialist will use data derived from the proposed study to:

  • Develop K-12 curriculum to match existing MN Academic Standards
  • Create web content for continued education

Information will also be incorporated into the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization’s (MWMO) K-12 programming. Water resource managers will be informed through our continued participation in the MN Contaminants Roundtable and collaboration with MWMO who has direct access to City Public Works staff. Educational and outreach activities will promote environmentally responsible behaviors to reduce the contribution of trace organic contaminants to urban stormwater.

The proposed study will be value-added through an ongoing funded study that provides most of the detailed analytical chemistry required to assess the performance of stormwater technologies.

Products and outreach