Tracking Illicit Discharges in Urban Stormwater Systems with Real-time 3G Wireless Sensors

Track 3B: Monitoring and Managing Pollution from the Urban Environment
Thursday, October 12, 2017, 3:40 pm – 5:10 pm

Thomas Westfall
Graduate Student
Virginia Tech

Illicit discharges are non-stormwater discharges into stormwater systems, including municipal separate stormwater sewer systems (MS4s). These discharges are a major source of pollution to downstream waterways. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains the water quality of these waterways under the Clean Water Act (1972) and its amendment, commonly referred to as the Water Quality Act (1987). The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), a provision to the Clean Water Act, requires permits for local municipalities to effectively prohibit non-stormwater discharges into storm sewers. However, standard methods can increase personnel and equipment costs and are not effective when outfalls are screened only a few times a year. In some circumstances, monitoring indicator variables in stormwater sewers at high-frequencies may be a cost effective alternative for detecting intermittent illicit discharges. The purpose of this study is to develop a strategy for integrating inexpensive sensors that measure temperature, conductivity, and pH for the detection and/or tracking of illicit discharges in urban stormwater systems.