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Watershed managers in urban areas throughout the United States are pursuing optimum strategies or plans for managing wastewater treatment plants, stormwater systems, sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) and combined sewer overflows (CSO). Often these strategies are based on an iterative process or a “further-reasonable-progress” approach to attaining water quality standards. Keys to this concept include demonstration of sustainable watershed solutions and continued waterbody monitoring and assessment. Solutions can involve flow attenuation and public amenity strategies as well as impervious area contaminant controls. These types of solutions represent cost-effective, further-reasonable-progress. Refined water quality use designations and site-specific water quality standard criteria can be the result of such monitoring and demonstrated improvements. Monitoring will provide the basis for Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) allocations including phased TMDL, a framework for this iterative approach.

The Columbus Water Works has spent the last decade developing a sound-science water quality program involving CSO control, wastewater systems optimization, source water protection and watershed management. Success of the program has relied on combining water quality improvements with community projects and education programs. The Columbus investment to implement CSO controls includes demonstration programs that have collected a significant amount of urban and rural wet-weather and biological data over the last four years. This data is analyzed under the guidance of the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) peer review process and defines transferable methodologies for watershed monitoring and modeling within a TMDL or source water protection framework. Monitoring includes sampling throughout the runoff hydrograph and continuous multiple sensor, flow and rainfall measurements. Preliminary findings indicate that watershed pollutant loads can be properly measured, can be used to calibrate models such as EPA BASINS, and can be related to aquatic biology and numeric standards or other use targets.

The Columbus program is also evaluating control technology performance and achievable environmental benefits and costs towards protecting site-specific beneficial use. Preliminary findings from the technology-testing program indicate that wet weather pollutants can be costeffectively processed. Recommendations of both the technology demonstration and watershed studies indicate that watershed demonstrations are necessary and that their focus should be twofold: 1) to optimize the drainage system to attenuate flows, and 2) to remove contaminants at all appropriate locations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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