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Novel design of volume of detention tanks assisted by a multi-source pollution overflow model towards pollution control in urban drainage basins

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The commonly employed design of detention tanks cannot effectively control overflow pollution because of non-stormwater entry and sewer sediments in the urban drainage system. Herein, a multi-source overflow model considering both overflow water quality and quantity has been developed for simulating real overflow events. Subcatchment and drainage information is extracted through geographic information system (ArcGIS) and a multi-source overflow model is developed in Stormwater Management Model (SWMM) by coupling runoff mode, non-stormwater mode, and sediment mode. This model is successfully calibrated and validated with the reasonable root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 8.2 and 5.8% for water quality and quantity, respectively. The simulated results suggest that the misconnected non-stormwater entry can affect overflow contaminant concentrations over the period of overflow due to its continuous pollution, while sewer sediments mainly exert effects on the peak pollution period of overflow. Based on model prediction, an approach called overflow peak pollution interception (OPPI) is proposed for model application and design optimization. The OPPI designed detention tank is suitable for high non-stormwater entries and long antecedent dry days (large amount of sediment). A case study is conducted in a high-density urban area of Shanghai, and compared with two commonly employed design methods in Germany and China, which have the similar design principle of volume, relying on amount of precipitation multiplying area of region, the combination of overflow model and OPPI approach enables to offer more accurate and effective design of detention tanks for pollution control in urban areas.


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i :

precipitation rate (mm/s)

P :

recurrence interval of rainfall (year)

A1, b, and n :

are experience parameters in Eq. (1), determined by urban drainage design manual

T :

time of rainfall (s)

V w :

total amount of water (m3)

A :

subcatchment area (m2)

Q :

quantity of surface runoff (m3/s)

W th :

width of subcatchment area (m)

n :

Manning roughness coefficient of permeable pavement

d :

depth of water surface (m)

d p :

depth of depression storage (m)

S :

slope of subcatchment (%)

A w :

flow cross-sectional area (m2)

t :

time (second)

Q w :

flow amount in the conduit t (m3/s)

x :

distance (m)

g :

acceleration of gravity (9.8 m/s2)

H :

hydraulic head of water (m)

S f :

friction slope

B C :

cumulative mass of wash-off constituent at time t (mass/per unit area or per unit roadside length)

C 1 :

maximum cumulative load

C 2 :

cumulative rate constant (day−1)

W :

load of pollutants washed by runoff at time t (mg/h)

C 3 :

pollutant wash-off coefficient

q :

runoff rate per unit area at time t (mm/h)

C 4 :

exponential wash-off

B :

residual surface pollution at time t (mg/h)

W sedmi :

load of sediment (kg)

W overflow :

load of overflow (kg)

W non − storm :

load of non-stormwater entries into storm sewers (kg)

W runoff :

load of runoff (kg)

C sedmi :

average contaminant concentration of sediments in the overflow (mg/L)

V overflow :

amount of total overflow (m3)

W m :

maximum cumulative load of sediment in the overflow (kg)

k :

sedimentation coefficient

t ant :

antecedent dry time (days)

b0, b1, K1, and K2 :

are fitting coefficient in the Eq. (10)

V ant _ dis :

overflow amount from the previous event (m3)

V dis :

amount of overflow at time t (m3)

Q se :

flow rate in the sewers (m3/s)

C N, j :

pollutant concentration of node j (mg/L)

C LZ. i :

pollutant concentration at the end of conduit i connecting node j (mg/L)

q Z, i :

flow at the end of conduit i (L/s)

W j :

load of external pollution entering node j (mg)

Q j :

external flow (L/s)

V :

the volume of the detention tank (m3)

V SR :

intercepted rainfall of per unit area in Germany (m3/ha)

A U :

impervious area (ha)

D :

intercepted rainfall of per unit area in China (mm)

F :

subcatchment area (hm2)

ψ :

runoff coefficient

β :

safety factor


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The supports from Shanghai Municipal Sewage Company Ltd. and the Municipality & Water Affairs Office of Xuhui District, Shanghai, are gratefully acknowledged.


This study was financially supported by the National Water Pollution Control and Management Technology Major Projects (2008ZX07317-001), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51979168), and the Natural Science Foundation of Shanghai, China (19ZR1443900).

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Correspondence to Weiyun Hua.

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Xu, Z., Hua, W., Xiong, L. et al. Novel design of volume of detention tanks assisted by a multi-source pollution overflow model towards pollution control in urban drainage basins. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-07842-0

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  • Overflow pollution
  • Detention tank
  • Water quality
  • Misconnected non-stormwater entries
  • Sewer sediments