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Urban Demonstrator: London Total Suspended Solids

South East Rivers Trust in Partnership with Thames21

Previous research has shown that an appreciable proportion of urban runoff pollution is associated with fine particles, which adsorb other contaminants onto their surface and may themselves be the product of processes such as road surface erosion or abrasion of vehicle brakes.

This research project aimed to determine the validity of measuring Total Suspended Solids (TSS) as a low cost proxy for other contamination.

The delivery of this project was divided into two phases:

Phase One: The significance of correlations between TSS and multiple other contaminants was determined. Data was used from multiple sample locations distributed across six rivers in London.

Phase Two: Direct sampling of Surface Water Outfalls (SWOs) was undertaken, allowing them to be prioritized in terms of the amount of contamination which they contribute to the river system. During this stage, lab analysis only included TSS, representing a significant cost saving.

The main findings of this research were that:

  • TSS can be used to indicate outfalls which cause downstream sediment contamination.
  • Additional data collection and analysis of this data set would help to determine if other low-cost proxies can be established to represent urban runoff contamination more broadly.
  • Citizen Scientists can safely and meaningfully contribute to urban runoff monitoring.
  • On the basis of Phase Two data, it was possible to prioritise a number of the 15 SWOs which were monitored. Recommendations are included in this report.

download2  Click download button to access pdf of final report.