University research revolutionises stormwater treatment

University research has found a new stormwater treatment device improves treated water by as much as 80 per cent.

The research, conducted by Western Australia’s Curtin University and published in the Journal of Environmental Management, found the design of the device, the catch basin insert (CBI), treated stormwater more thoroughly at the source by removing gross pollutants such as leaves and plastic, as well as smaller dissolvable pollutants, the vast majority of which are not captured by previous designs.

The device improved treated stormwater quality by as much as 80 per cent, preventing harmful pollutants from entering waterways and cutting recycling and infrastructure costs for authorities.

Researcher Dr Zahanggir Alam, from the university’s School of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, said the new CBI used a specifically developed filtration material and was shown to capture 95 per cent of waste entering the drain while improving treated stormwater quality by 80 per cent.

“By removing dissolvable pollutants such as nutrients from stormwater run-off, the CBI can help arrest the declining health of waterways such as Perth’s Swan and Canning rivers and the ocean,” he said.

“Excessive nutrients in our rivers create a lack of oxygen in the water that can kill fish and also leads to algal blooms that block the sun and prevent photosynthesis by plants – all of which harms entire river and marine ecosystems.”

Dr Alam said the CBI has the potential to be used as the primary treatment component of water sensitive urban designs; however, further research was required to explore the device’s potential.

“While this research focuses on the removal of nutrients from stormwater now, it can be further developed to also remove heavy metals, hydrocarbons and other environmentally harmful dissolvable pollutants,” he said.

“This will be the focus of our research moving forward.”

The research was part of Dr Alam’s PhD thesis, for which he received a Curtin University Chancellor’s Commendation, and was carried out in collaboration with Urban Stormwater Technologies.

For more information visit the Curtin University website.

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Images supplied by Curtin University

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