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Urban Stormwater Tracing with the Naturally Occurring Deuterium Isotope

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Measurements of naturally occurring deuterium isotope (δD) assist in tracing water components during wet weather flows in an urban watershed. A transect of installations in the vadose and saturated zones was completed in the vicinity of a small stream and storm sewer. High-resolution deuterium mass spectrometry discriminated between storm sewer leaks and other water sources such as direct runoff, bank seepage, and groundwater flow to a stream channel. Isotope hydrograph separation indicates that groundwater or vadose water predominantly contributed to the volume of stream water compared to direct surface runoff during a storm event. Significant differences in δD in the subsurface suggest that multiple flow components exist beyond the time period of a storm event. Deuterium measurements are helpful for modeling leaks and seepage and refining mass balances of flows in urban watersheds.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 1999

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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