A methodology for the design of wet detention basins for treatment of highway stormwater runoff

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Virginia Tech

Laboratory-scale settling columns were used to determine the settling velocity distributions of suspended solids to refine a methodology selected by the FHWA in designing wet detention basins for the treatment of highway stormwater runoff. Thirteen runoff samples were collected, over two years, from high volume (greater than 100,000 vehicles per day) highways in the Northern Virginia area. The sampling sites drained only highways and associated rights-of-way. Approximately 5.5 gallons of stormwater were placed in Plexiglass columns, and samples were withdrawn from column sampling ports immediately following sample addition, and after two, six, twelve, twenty-four, and forty-eight hours. Sampling depths along the column, were at one, two, and three feet from the base of the column. Each sample was analyzed for total suspended solids, five total and dissolved heavy metals, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, nitrate-nitrite nitrogen, total and dissolved phosphorus, and pH. Orthophosphorus, temperature, and total dissolved solids were analyzed only during the first year.

The resulting analysis determined that highway runoff is similar to urban runoff in distribution and settling characteristics. Correlations between suspended solids removal and the removal of other pollutants were developed. The settling velocity distribution found in this study resulted in the revision of the FHWA design methodology for wet detention basins.