Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 8, pp 5263–5266 | Cite as

Chemical, microbiological, and spatial characteristics and impacts of contaminants from urban catchments: CABRRES project

  • Gislain Lipeme Kouyi
  • Cécile Cren-Olivé
  • Benoit Cournoyer
Chemical and microbial contaminations of urban waters including stormwater runoff, wastewaters, and combined sewer overflow waters have been shown for a number of years. It is clearly demonstrated, for example, that metallic ions, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), pesticides, and microbial pathogens can be conveyed by such waters, and they have been found strongly associated with suspended matters. The “Water Framework Directive” (WFD) led to the launching of several research initiatives toward the “Best Management Practices – BMP,” through novel or improved technologies aiming at reducing the ecotoxicological impacts and health risks associated with these waters. Some of these techniques consist at keeping these waters for a certain amount of time in a confined system in order to favor settling of their suspended particles and lead, in part, to the natural biological degradation of their contaminants. These systems are typically impervious basins that can receive stormwaters, e.g. detention basins, biofilters, artificial wetlands, or combined sewer overflows, e.g. stabilization ponds of wastewater treatment lagoons. Several key mechanisms occur in these systems (Fig. 1). The deposits formed constitute areas of high levels of contamination.
Fig. 1

Hydrodynamic parameters and biophysico-chemical processes in detention-settling basins (Qe and Qs represent respectively the inlet and outlet flow-rates, while Ce and Cs represent respectively the inlet and outlet concentrations of particles)

These structures (basins) are ecosystems with an important biological diversity. They can represent a high risk of contamination of the connected surfaces, streams, or groundwater environments into which they are discharged. Investigations regarding their efficiency at retaining and transforming pollutants and killing undesirable microbes are thus required. When landscaped, these structures may lead to the development of urban public spaces. In this context, they are subjected to social practices generally associated with public gardens, practices which accidentally or regularly expose the public to their contaminants. In addition, these structures require maintenance and specific management, exposing workers to their contaminants. It is therefore essential that the chemical and microbiological contaminants present in these systems are accurately characterized and measured (i.e. which chemical forms and microbial species and genotypes, and how much?), and their health hazards and risks be inferred or estimated. In this context, several biofilters, detention basins, and stabilization ponds have been monitored and investigated around the world.

The CABRRES project (Chemical, microbiological, spatial characteristics and impacts of contaminants from urban stormwater detention basins: Assessment and Management of Environmental and Human Health Risks,, funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR), is one of these research initiatives. It is an interdisciplinary research project (Fig. 2) aiming at better defining the interactions between chemical pollutants (including toxic agents), microbiological agents (including pathogens), and hydrodynamic parameters of detention basins. The working packages include state-of-the-art investigations of each, the chemical and microbiological contaminants, and the hydrodynamics. They also include innovative statistical computing and modeling attempting at defining reproducible trends among the data sets and at identifying particular “indicators” of the “sanitary” status of such basins. These tasks could lead to predictive tools that could be used on a routine basis. Sources of the chemical and microbiological contaminants present in the basin are investigated by means of socio-technical approaches and microbiological surveys. The detention basin investigated in this CABRRES project is part of the field observatory for urban water management ( and named the Django Reinhardt detention-settling basin of Chassieu (east Lyon, France). It is connected to an infiltration basin.
Fig. 2

Connections between the tasks and the related CABRRES disciplines

The first analyses conducted in the frame of the CABRRES project regarding the microbiological characterization of the sediments of the detention basin are presented in this special issue (see Sebastian et al. paper). These data highlighted a relationship between PAH distribution and microbiological indicators, i.e. Escherichia coli, intestinal Enterococci, and Nocardia, used to predict contamination by pathogenic microorganisms. The detention basin was considered to be contaminated by fecal contaminants, but their origin remains to be investigated. Metagenomic surveys of the bacterial diversity of the sediments have been done, and statistical tests are now being performed to define the dominating taxonomic groups and the incidence of the hydrodynamics and physicochemical forces on their repartition and survival.

The results deriving from CABRRES project will (a) increase knowledge on the interactions between chemical, physical, and microbiological components of detention basins; (b) improve the understanding of the socio-technical processes generating and disseminating contaminants among urban waters; (c) define key indicators for assessing the sanitary status and ecological hazards of these systems; and (d) propose protocols for monitoring these structures. CABRRES is also financially supported by “IMU” Labex (“Intelligence des Mondes Urbains” national excellence laboratory) and OTHU.

Other papers selected for this special issue are on topics related to the CABRRES project. These papers present original observations regarding dissolved or particulate urban contaminants (chemical or microbiological ones) and their dissemination through the water cycle across urban areas. They describe (a) chemical contaminants among the total atmospheric fallout (Gasperi et al.); (b) the sources of contaminants, their accumulation on and their mobilization from, urban surfaces (Shorshani et al.; Kaaniche et al.); (c) the transport and the variability of contaminants in sewer system (Hannouche et al.; Lucas et al.); as well as (d) their key characteristics (El-Mufleh et al.), their trapping, and their transformation in sewer or stormwater-specific structures such as biofilters (Chandrasena et al.; Mailler et al.), lagoons (Lavenir et al.), settling basins (Yan et al.; Sebastian et al.; Gonzalez-Merchan et al.), and infiltration basins (Gonzalez-Merchan et al.).

Authors and reviewers are greatly acknowledged for their contributions. Several contributions come from the French observatories for urban water monitoring and management (ONEVU-Nantes, OPUR-Paris, and OTHU - Lyon), which are gathered into the same inter-observatory structure called SOERE URBIS ( and give an overview of the French initiatives in this field. Dr. Philippe Garrigues, Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Science and Pollution Research, and his Editorial team are warmly thanked for their interest on this topic and handling of the review process.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gislain Lipeme Kouyi
    • 1
  • Cécile Cren-Olivé
    • 2
  • Benoit Cournoyer
    • 3
  1. 1.INSA de Lyon, LGCIE - Laboratory of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Université de LyonVilleurbanne CedexFrance
  2. 2.Département Service Central d’Analyse, Institut des Sciences AnalytiquesVilleurbanneFrance
  3. 3.CNRS, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Lyon, UMR 5557 Ecologie Microbienne, Université de Lyon 1Villeurbanne CedexFrance

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