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Stormwater runoff is currently perceived as a major source of pollutants discharged to the coastal oceans of southern California, but the quality and quantity of stormwater runoff is highly variable. In this study, nearly 2,000 samples were collected at 15-min intervals during the 1997/98 wet season from the Santa Ana River, an urbanized watershed in Orange County, California, to assess the magnitude of seasonal flushing and to assess pollutant variability within and among storm events. All samples were analyzed for total suspended solids (TSS); and a selected subset was analyzed for total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN), and trace metals (cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc). Flow ranged up to five orders of magnitude and constituent concentrations routinely varied among storms by two orders of magnitude. Flow was the largest factor that accounted for changes in TSS concentrations. Significant seasonal flushing was observed. There were 220 non-rain days prior to the season's first event, and the first four storms had significantly higher concentrations of TSS and trace metals than the remaining storms of the season.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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