Modelling Microorganisms in Urban Stormwater

(2005 – 2008)
David McCarthy

Urban stormwater utilisation has great potential; it simultaneously reduces detrimental stormwater impacts and provides an alternate urban water source that is abundant in most major cities. However, in order to utilise urban stormwater, it is necessary to identify the levels of microorganisms in the runoff from urban catchments, due to the human health risks associated with these systems. The most practical way of determining the microorganism level in urban runoff is to use a modelling tool.

As such, the main aim of this research project was to develop and test a new model which could predict the level of microorganisms in urban stormwater and this developed model was called MOPUS (Micro-Organism Prediction in Urban Stormwater). Due to the lack of available data on microorganisms in urban stormwater (especially wet weather event data), a large monitoring program was conducted to characterise the level of microorganisms (mainly Escherichia coli, a common faecal indicator) in stormwater from four urban catchments in Melbourne, Australia. These catchments varied in area, imperviousness, land-use and year of development. Rainfall and flow data were collected from these sites throughout the entire monitoring program.

Overall, the project’s aim was achieved and the main hypothesis (that microorganism behaviour and transport can be modelled using measurable catchment properties, hydrological processes and wastewater system interactions) was confirmed by the reliable model estimates discussed above. A main outcome of testing the model (including the sensitivity and verification analyses) was that, to fully understand its capabilities and limitations, the model should be applied to several other urban catchments, using a number of different microorganisms.

Click here to read the abstract of this PhD – PDF (250KB)

Prof Ana Deletic, Dr Grace Mitchell and Dr Clare Diaper (CSIRO at the time)

McCarthy D.T. (2008) Modelling Microorganisms in Urban Stormwater. PhD Thesis, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University.

Other Publications (link)

Implementation Models Program
Ecosystem ProtectionEcosystem Dynamics Program

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