Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 223, Issue 7, pp 4627–4645 | Cite as

Sediment Pollution, Transport, and Abatement Measures in the City Canals of Delft, the Netherlands

  • P. Kelderman


This paper presents an overview of a long-term study on sediment pollution in the city canals of Delft, the Netherlands. This pollution was most evident for the inner city canal system, with copper, lead, zinc, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as main pollutants. Sediments of the outer city canals generally had a much better quality. Pollution levels, mutual correlations, and spatial variations were investigated for the various sediment parameters. Also, heavy metal binding forms onto Delft sediments were assessed with the help of sequential extraction techniques; results were found to be in line with expected preferential physicochemical binding processes. Input of sediments into the Delft inner city canals was shown to be largely driven by busy shipping traffic on the main canal surrounding the inner city. Mass balances for the inner city were used to quantify internal and external pollution sources; 65–85 % of the heavy metal pollution can be attributed to sources outside the Delft area. As shown by factor and cluster analyses, it is highly probable that these external sources derive from the river Rhine. A gradual improvement of the sediment quality has set in; it is expected that, due to further pollution abatement measures, this improvement will continue over the years to come. With respect to the ship-induced sediment input into the inner city canals, it was estimated that a reduction of ship velocities to <1.5 m/s will bring down the sediment input mentioned above to about 85 %.


Factor analysis Heavy metals Mass balance PAHs Sequential extraction Shipping traffic 



The research was carried out during the period 1991–2006. Thanks are due to W.M.E. Drossaert from “De Straat Milieuadviseurs”, as coordinator of the sediment quality assessment at the 182 stations, and to N. van Mulken of the organization mentioned above, for composing various Delft sediment maps. A.E. Mynett, A. Verwey, and J.C. Winterwerp of Deltares (formerly: WL|Delft Hydraulics) were very helpful in the modeling of the hydrodynamics of shipping movements. K. Irvine critically read the manuscript. The various researches described in this paper were mostly carried out in the framework of MSc researches at UNESCO-IHE and were supervised by M. Bijlsma and the author, with invaluable assistance of the UNESCO-IHE laboratory staff: G.F. Kruis (head), C.G.J. Bik (deceased), D. van Galen, L. Robbemont, and F. Wiegman. Thanks are due to the following international batch of M.Sc. students: Luis S. Galione (Uruguay), Dessalegn Bezabih Kassie (Ethiopia), Lilian C. Okonkwo (Nigeria), William J. Ntow (Ghana), Andries S. Manamela (South Africa), Qu Wenchuan, Xia Jianling, Zhang Min and Yang Xuedong (People’s Republic of China), and Alfatih Osman (Sudan). This research was financially supported by the municipality of Delft and was guided by I.A. Clarisse, B. Janssen, and M. Iping of the project “Delft-Kennisstad” (“Delft-City of Knowledge”).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftthe Netherlands

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