Characterising event-based DOM inputs to an urban watershed

Danny Croghan, Chris Bradley, David Hannah, Jon Sadler, Anne Van Loon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM) composition in urban streams is dominated by terrestrial inputs after rainfall events. Urban streams have particularly strong terrestrial-riverine connections due to direct input from terrestrial drainage systems. Event driven DOM inputs can have substantial adverse effects on water quality. Despite this, DOM from important catchment sources such as road drains and Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) remains poorly characterised within urban watersheds. We studied DOM sources within an urbanised, headwater watershed in Birmingham, UK. Samples from terrestrial sources (roads, roofs and a CSO), were collected manually after the onset of rainfall events of varying magnitude, and again within 24-hrs of the event ending. Terrestrial samples were analysed for fluorescence, absorbance and Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) concentration. Fluorescence and absorbance indices were calculated, and Parallel Factor Analysis (PARAFAC) was undertaken to aid sample characterization. Substantial differences in fluorescence, absorbance, and DOC were observed between source types. PARAFAC-derived components linked to organic pollutants were generally highest within road derived samples, whilst humic-like components tended to be highest within roof samples. Samples taken from the CSO generally contained low fluorescence, however this likely represents a dilution effect. Variation within source groups was particularly high, and local land use seemed to be the driving factor for road and roof drain DOM character and DOC quantity. Furthermore, high variation in fluorescence, absorbance and DOC was apparent between all sources depending on event type. Drier antecedent conditions in particular were linked to greater presence of terrestrially-derived components and higher DOC content. Our study indicates that high variations in DOM character occur between source types, and over small spatial scales. Road drains located on main roads appear to contain the poorest quality DOM of the sources studied due to the presence of hydrocarbons. In order to prevent storm-derived DOM degradation of water quality of urban streams, greater knowledge of links between these drainage sources, and their pathways to streams is required.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2017
EventAGU Fall Meeting 2017 - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 11 Dec 201715 Dec 2017


ConferenceAGU Fall Meeting 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans


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