The effects of rainfall runoff from urban and rural watersheds on trihalomethane precursors in streams

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this research was to investigate the relationship between watershed land use and seasonal changes on THM-formation potential from the waters of four streams located in northern Virginia. Specific objectives were to observe the effect of impoundment on downstream THM precursor concentrations and to evaluate the molecular-size distributions of THM-precursors in stream waters as to the influence of seasonal changes, storm events, and watershed land use.

Raw water samples were collected from October 1989 through May 1990 during baseflow and storm conditions. The samples were fractionated through 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, and 30000 dalton ultrafilters and were then chlorinated to determine the THM-formation potential based on the total organic concentration of the water fraction.

From the data collected, it was shown that seasonal changes influenced the TOC and THM-precursor loadings in runoff from the watersheds. Fall runoff from Broad Run contributed the highest mass loading. Impoundment was seen to increase the amount of THM precursors downstream of Lake Manassas on Broad Run with the largest difference observed during the fall event. The more-rural watersheds draining into Broad Run contributed the most TOC and THM precursors during the fall runoff event, while the more-urban watersheds (Bull Run and Holmes Run) contributed more TOC and THM precursors in the winter and spring runoff.