Urban Runoff Quality: Information Needs

by Michael B. Sonnen, (M.ASCE), Pres.; The M.B. Sonnen Co., Inc., Walnut Creek, Calif.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Technical Councils of ASCE, 1980, Vol. 106, Issue 1, Pg. 29-40

Document Type: Journal Paper


Current perceptions of runoff water quality viewed by government and by university and private scientists tend to be limited to immediate and pressing regulatory requirements. As a consequence, the true importance or insignificance of urban runoff as a source of damaging pollution is going undiscovered. Current mathematical models purporting to be theoretically sound expressions of urban runoff and land surface behavior are shown to be quite rudimentary, based on statistically invalid information, and are of questionable predictive value. Newer planning methods are needed on which to base decisions about costly pollution control alternatives. These methods can be forthcoming only through derivation of more comprehensive theory and by its proof in turn by more comprehensive sampling. Many information gaps, which are considered, should be filled. Limited, though perhaps still quite expensive, pilot programs of sampling are proposed.

Subject Headings: Urban areas | Runoff | Water quality | Pollution | Government | Colleges and universities | Mathematical models | Hydrologic models

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