1.0 Introduction

It has been more than 35 years since the first engineering courses were offered at the University of Waterloo in July, 1957: the first permanent campus building did not open until the following year. Since then, more than 40 buildings have been erected on the campus. This rapid physical growth was accompanied by alterations to the natural features of land and watercourses on University property. Some of those changes resulted in degradation of the ecological systems on and adjacent to the campus; by the mid-1970s the deterioration of Laurel Creek had become noticeable. On June 12, 1975, a team of 11 people investigated the University of Waterloo's Sanitary and Storm systems and Laurel Creek for pollutants as part of a study called Experience `75. Their purpose was to determine to what extent the University was adding, if indeed it was, to the loading of pollutants into the water systems (Crouther, 1975). That question remains unanswered 20 years later.

In the nearly two decades since then, a wave of public concern for the environment, and water resources in particular, has emerged. Those concerns have grown beyond the anthropocentric need to ensure safe drinking water and pleasing aesthetics. This WATGREEN/ERS 285 project adds to the data collected by Experience `75 and consolidates data from research and testing done in the intervening years. The 1994 study addresses some of the negative effects that the current drainage system has on Laurel Creek within the campus as a consequence of University expansion and urbanization of the City of Waterloo.

A general outline of this project's schedule can be found in Appendix E.

1.1 Sustainability on Campus

What is sustainability? Simply put, to sustain means to endure through time. The University of Waterloo, through programs like WATGREEN, can serve as a model or a centre of excellence for sustainability. Sustainability is intrinsically linked to stewardship of the ecosystems within the University and it includes the responsibility for ethical environmental behaviour in the context of the global community. If the University of Waterloo is to become sustainable, its decision- makers must understand how University systems function in whole and in part, and how they impact the rest of the world. This means understanding the widespread economic effects and power of the University as well as the total ecological costs of its existence. The University has unusual opportunities to integrate sustainable practices for students and staff of many departments, and to influence the behaviour of the community at large. With its links to science, technology, business, arts, education and government, plus its access to academic experts and willing learners, the University is in a unique position to bring sustainability concepts to fruition.

One way the University of Waterloo contributes to sustainability is by encouraging students to undertake research on specific topics for credit in courses such as this (ERS 285). This project group examined the impact of one of the campus storm sewer networks - - the Math and Computer (MC) Drain system- - on Laurel Creek, a stream that has become degraded over the past few decades. Central to the concept of sustainability is the need to understand what has happened in the past to this system, what is happening at present, and what are the components and inputs that trigger a negative impact on the Laurel Creek ecosystem. This must be done to understand why the ecosystem has become unsustainable.

1.2 Evaluating sustainability

One of the challenges of the sustainability concept is evaluating at what point an unsustainable practice becomes sustainable, and for whom or for what is it being sustained. Ultimately Laurel Creek will be sustainable when it meets the definition of water quality outlined in section 2.2 of this report. At that point the Creek will be sustainable for the organisms that depend on it for survival.

Obviously it was not possible to "re-sustain" the urban drainage network or Laurel Creek in the 12- week period of this study. Neither was it possible to make realistic and educated recommendations for the remediation of the Creek. What was accomplished was the first stage of data gathering and analysis needed to understand the causes of stream degradation. Another of the challenges of the sustainability concept is overcoming jurisdictional fragmentation within the system; although the mouth of the drain empties into Laurel Creek on campus, inputs to the drainage system also originate from the University of Waterloo, from private property owners adjacent to the Northeast campus, and from roads owned by the City of Waterloo. From the information presented in this report, it is hoped that key actors -- the University (Administration, Plant Operations, Health and Safety, and various faculties) and the City of Waterloo -- will recognize that the MC drain is a source of pollution to Laurel Creek and to work together to improve the quality of the Creek. This will include providing the financial and/or personnel resources needed to fully investigate the nature of contaminants from the MC drain.

2.0 Project Background

2.1 The Problems of Urbanization

Urban hydrology, the study of water and how it affects and is affected by urbanization, has become an essential part of urban development and planning. The need for urban hydrology emerged around the same time period that automobiles became a major form of transportation. (Lazaro, 1979) With automobiles came a spreading of city limits and an expanse of impermeable surfaces, which changed the natural landscape to one of concrete and paved structures. This change in environment resulted in the bypassing of natural processes such as percolation and infiltration and as a result created many water quality and control problems.

In a natural system most water from precipitation is absorbed by soil through a process called infiltration. The water then percolates through the soil, and eventually reaches a groundwater aquifer where it moves laterally to a stream channel. (Brooks et al., 1991) Percolation is a process that acts as a filter to rid the water of contaminants and solid particles. Groundwater also cools before it eventually discharges into a stream. By the time the water migrates into a stream, it is of relatively improved quality and can support a wide range of aquatic life.

Urban areas consist of many impermeable surfaces that do not allow for infiltration or percolation. As a result, precipitation runs over the impenetrable surface and into storm drains that empty into streams. Surface runoff may enter streams rapidly from storm drains that collect water from parking lots, roads and carry many contaminants with it. Specific contaminants in runoff depend on the surfaces over which the water runs. Common contaminants include silt, oil, gasoline, salt, litter and bacteria (faecal coliform) (Sheffield, 1982). Surface runoff may also be warmed directly by the sun or by travelling over sun- warmed surfaces, thereby subjecting the receiving stream to thermal pollution. Because of contamination and thermal pollution, water in storm drains that empty directly into streams can result in a degradation of the overall water quality of the stream water.

2.2 A Definition of Water Quality

"Water quality" must be defined before efforts are taken to improve the quality of any given body of water. A stream of "high water quality' would have low temperature, high dissolved oxygen, low bacterial concentrations and low toxicant levels, and be capable of supporting a diversity of organisms. The American system of defining water quality is based upon the intended use of the water in question (Department of Biology, 1994). For example, the criteria for water quality of drinking water are much more strict than for water used in recreation. The Canadian system of standardising water quality has focused mainly on undertaking remedial action to restore water quality that will sustain all organisms. In other words, corrective action will be taken to try to improve water quality so that organisms and humans alike, will not experience any detrimental effects that may occur from urban development (Department of Biology, 1994). For this study, water quality will be defined in terms of both American and Canadian water quality standards. Our project compares the water quality of parameters found in the MC drain to suitable levels for both aquatic wildlife survival and human health. A picture of the outlet of the MC drain can be found in Figure 1.0.

2.3 Area of Study

Laurel Creek, a stream in the Grand River Watershed, has been affected by the urbanization of Waterloo Region. The section of the creek that runs through the University of Waterloo campus is an ideal case study for the effects of urbanization on natural water courses. The Laurel Creek Watershed is represented in Figure 2.0.

Unfortunately, the original course of Laurel Creek was never documented in detail prior to the founding of the University of Waterloo. However, it is known that the Creek supported a large population of brown trout, a species indicative of ecosystem health (Davis et al, 1975). At one point in the University's history, the natural course of the stream was altered because it was in the way of development (Davis et al., 1975). For example, the stream was dammed outside the Health and Safety Building to create an aesthetic reflecting pool. This pool slowed the flow of the stream and became a catch basin for suspended sediment from upstream. As a result, the pond has been excavated several times in the past few years. The alteration of the creek's natural course and installation of the dams on the campus and above the campus continue to have an environmental impact upon the creek today. These effects include bank erosion and increased water temperature (Davis et al., 1975). The construction of impermeable surfaces has also resulted in less surface area available to permit infiltration (Davis et al., 1975). Soil erosion was perhaps the greatest impact from construction on the University campus. Open excavation sites and the loss of vegetation caused the exposed soil to be easily eroded by surface runoff and deposited into the creek. This development increased the stream's turbidity (degree of optical reflection) and smothered the habitat and spawning grounds of fish and other aquatic organisms (Davis et al., 1975).

Thus it is clear that because of past and present development decisions, the section of Laurel Creek that traverses the University of Waterloo campus has been negatively impacted by many elements of urbanization. To improve the quality of water in the creek, it is necessary to understand the major sources of contamination, and either eliminate those sources or mitigate their impacts. This report deals primarily with one effluent site of contaminated runoff: the MC storm drain (see Figure 1.0; also see Appendix A).

2.4 Purpose and Goals of the Project

Storm drains are an example of an engineered solution to problem caused by urbanization. The function of storm drains is to remove water from streets as quickly as possible to ensure public safety. However, in the process of ensuring human safety, the environmental consequences have often been overlooked. Flooding and other water quality and control problems often result from poor planning and uninformed development decisions. At one time, storm water runoff was considered to be a useful source of dilution for urban pollutants. It was generally accepted that dilution was the solution to pollution (Sheffield, 1982). However, as runoff flows across impermeable surfaces, it picks up ground and lawn deposits, pesticides, fertilisers, and street litter that includes street sweepings, scattered debris, bird and animal faeces, household refuse, and air pollution fallout (Sheffield, 1982).

Fortunately urban planning decisions are beginning to reflect a trend towards the protection of water resources. In many municipalities, conventional planning is being replaced with environmental or watershed planning. But there are many urban drainage systems that continue to have negative impacts on local watercourses. The quality of water in Laurel Creek on campus is affected by water running from the storm drains into the creek, but the extent of the effects are not known. Therefore, it was decided to study the drainage inputs to the Creek, using the MC drain as the focus of the study. The purpose of this study was multifaceted:

1. To determine levels of phosphates, conductivity, chlorides, faecal coliform, temperature and pH in the water of the MC drain that empties into Laurel Creek from chemical analysis; and, to investigate other contaminants by visual analysis of samples taken directly from source drains.

2. To assess which, if any, of these contaminant levels are of concern

3. To make inferences about the causes of any levels which are of concern

4. To recommend appropriate restoration methods based on analysis of data from the testing phase.

5. To consider the cumulative effects of runoff contamination using the MC Drain as a model.

6. The consolidate data from previous studies and tests done on the MC drain.

The MC drain was chosen as the point of study for a variety of reasons. Past University classes had already tested for certain water quality parameters and this allowed for the analysis of data over a duration of two years rather than only at one point in time. These previous studies indicated high levels of certain parameters, which were a cause for concern and further investigation. The drain is expected to be representative of other drains both on and off campus, as it drains an extensive area of land and covers a wide variety of surfaces. The MC drain was also situated in an accessible location which facilitated testing.

3.0 Systems Descriptions

3.1 The Nature of Systems

A system is a set of components and their interrelationships (Department of Environment and Resource Studies, 1993). However, a system is more than a set of discrete parts, and also more than the sum of those parts. A system is something which, by virtue of its level of organization, behaves in a specific manner or which has emergent properties that may not be predictable solely by investigating its components. Systems can also either be open or closed. An open system is one that permits the movement of inputs and outputs through its boundaries, whereas a closed system does not permit such movement and is essentially self-contained and self-perpetuating within its boundaries.

The MC drain can be considered an open, linear system because it has specified boundaries and inputs and outputs. The drain can also be considered a subsystem of larger systems, such as Laurel Creek, the Laurel Creek sub-watershed and the Grand River watershed (see Figure 3.0). The MC drain can be studied in the context of socio-political systems such as actor systems (see Appendix B) or in the context of a jurisdictional/political system. The systems most relevant to this study include the MC drain system, and the larger Laurel Creek system of which the MC drain is a part.

3.2 The Math and Computer Drain System

The MC drain is the discharge point of an storm- sewer system designed for the removal of storm runoff from the Northeast portion of the University of Waterloo and adjacent properties in the City of Waterloo (Figure 4.0). Rain water is channelled via a network of grates on parking lots, lawns and streets through sub- surface drainage pipes. Moving "upstream" or against the flow of water, the drain starts at the discharge point on the Laurel Creek . Its mouth is the culvert under Ring Road across from the Campus Centre. The drain system continues eastward to the Math and Computer building, the field between the Campus Centre, and Biology/Chemistry buildings. It then stretches to East Campus Hall, and drains the parking lots on east campus. On the Northeast portion of the campus the drain extends off- campus, and drains land near the intersection of Columbia Street and Philip Street. The system then continues along ring road all the way up to Federation Hall, and then southbound, covering Parking Lot "M" and then the field between the Physical Activities Centre and the Math and Computer building. The off-campus component of the system extends as far east as the residential neighbourhoods along Philip Street, and several hundred metres north, south, and west of the intersection of Philip and Columbia streets. The storm runoff in this system is not treated before it enters the stream. This system includes physical components (pipes, grates, culverts, manhole covers, tiles etc.) plus inputs (water, oil and grease, sediments, metal particles, fertiliser, pesticide residue, animal faeces and litter) that are also carried to the Creek via the drainage network. Effluent drains from the mouth of the system and is the major output of the system, although leaks in the drains may also contribute to the output. This is a linear system, the greater hydrologic cycle notwithstanding.

3.3 The Laurel Creek System

Laurel Creek, a tributary to Grand River, has its headwaters in the Townships of Wellesley, Woolwich and Wilmot. Generally, The Creek flows in an easterly direction through these townships, plus the City of Waterloo and the Village of Bridgeport. The total estimated drainage area of the Creek is 76.4 km2 and its total length is approximately 20.9 km.(Kilburn, 1972). In the upper and middle portion of Laurel Creek land use is primarily agricultural. Land in the lower portion is predominantly urbanised.

As explained above, the MC storm sewer drain is a tributary to Laurel Creek, but it represents only a small portion of the total volume of the Creek. Within the mixing zone the drain/Creek ratio is often about 1:20 (see Table 1.0). The total amount of water that enters the Laurel Creek system includes natural runoff and overland flow, interflow, groundwater flow, precipitation and storm drain effluent. The MC drain contributes to this flow of water by draining an extensive area of land and channelling it into Laurel Creek. The impact of the MC drain effluent on the creek is greatly reduced due to the sheer volume of the creek from all of the other water sources. Regardless of the extent of impact, the effluent from the drain and the contaminants it carries have an effect on the water quality of a small portion of the creek , particularly the mixing zone (Appendix A.8).

4.0 Water Quality Testing

4.1 Chemical Tests

In the past, many water quality tests have been conducted at the MC drain. In ENVS 200, ERS 280 and other courses in the science and engineering faculties, the curriculum has included some aspect of studying water quality and other processes in the Creek. For example, as a part of the ENVS 200 lab in the Fall, Winter and Spring terms, students test Creek water quality at four locations: below Health and Safety; in the MC drain; at the corner of University and Westmount; and the confluence of Laurel Creek and Clair Creek beside the Fire Hall on Westmount (see Figure 3.0, "Laurel Creek Drainage Basin on Campus"). Unfortunately records of those tests were not kept in a central location and there are gaps in the data. However, the results of chemical tests that could be retrieved from instructors and past assignments are included in Appendix C. As a result, only some of the historical data were available for analysis. Water quality tests on the same parameters were conducted by this project group and supplemented with faecal and total coliform analysis. This sampling approach was designed to determine the extent of the cumulative impact that the storm sewer has on the water quality of the Creek. Water quality parameters for chemical testing included: pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, phosphates, chlorides, turbidity, and faecal and total coliform. Methods for the chemical analyses conducted were taken from the Standard Methods For the Examination of Water and Wastewater (American Public Health Association, 1992). Equipment was provided by the Ecology Lab in Environmental Studies.

4.2 Visual Tests

In addition to the chemical water tests on water/effluent from the MC drain, visual samples were collected from several of the drains following a walk-through of the areas on and off campus that are part of the surface drainage area. A map indicating the sampling locations can be found in Figure 6.0. This was a challenge because there were no devices readily available that fit into the openings in the drain grate. Kevin Allin, a member of the research team, designed a sampling mechanism from a florist's stem vase, string and a piece of lead (see Figure 5.0). This device was dropped into the grate to scoop up a small amount of the water. The sample was placed in a small glass jar for later analysis and the device was cleaned with distilled water and paper towel between samples. Observations were also recorded for the temperature of the water in the drain, depth of the water in the drain, and presence or absence of odour and other contaminants (see Table 2.0). Samples were collected from lawn drains, ring road drains, parking lot drains, and from drains near industry and businesses off campus. These samples were examined for colour, clarity, odour and visible sheen (on the surface of water in the drain or in the collected sample).

5.0 Results

The MC drain collects surface runoff from permeable surfaces, such as lawns, and from impermeable surfaces, such as paved roads, bicycle paths, buildings and other concrete structures. The sources affecting the eight water quality parameters, pH, temperature, conductivity, phosphates, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, chlorides and faecal coliform, can be accounted for by investigating the types and uses of the surfaces over which the runoff flows.

During periods of peak spring runoff, the Creek floods at various locations. However,

during lower flows in the summer, fall and winter, the water quality can be more adversely

affected by pollutants entering the stream. Seasonal fluctuations in contaminant levels are key factors to consider in all water quality tests.

Data obtained both from measurement and from previous studies of the MC drain were entered into a database in chronological order of testing. Also, comparative water quality testing sites were compiled for stream points near the Health and Safety building as well as at the University and Westmount intersection. These data sites proved to be a useful aid in data organization, comparison and the creation of graphs. The levels of contaminants found in the MC drain were compared to standard levels using the Ontario Clean Water Quality Standards found in the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines (Task Force on Water Quality Guidelines of the Canadian Council of Resources and Environmental Ministers, March 1987). The data was then portrayed visually with the use of bar graphs which indicated seasonal trends in contaminant levels in both the drain and the creek.

5.1 pH

Water (H2O) contains both H+ (hydrogen) ions and OH- (hydroxyl) ions. The pH test measures the H+ ion concentration of aqueous solutions. The pH scale ranges from 0- 14, 0 being acidic and 14 being alkaline. A pH of 7 signifies a neutral pH, usually that of deionized water. Most of the pH imbalances (primarily acidic) in global water bodies are caused by human activities. Some of the largest sources of acidification are emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere. (Mitchell et al., 1993) Most aquatic life has a very narrow pH range of tolerance within which it can survive. Acidic water may increase the solubility of some metals, making them more biologically available.

The presence of limestone in the Waterloo Region affects the pH of the stream, by making it moderately alkaline and highly resistant to variation. Chart 1 demonstrates that over the testing duration, the pH levels seemed to remain within a small interval, did not reach below 7.7, or exceed 8.4. The acceptable range for pH in drinking water, as set by Health and Welfare Canada, is 6.5 - 8.5. Similarly, the fresh water standard for pH in water is 6.5 - 9.0. Although the fluctuation of pH remained within a small interval, the MC drain remained less alkaline than the creek, while in the summer, the trend was reversed. Also, pH levels appeared to decrease during the spring months. Many factors can affect pH, which makes it difficult to find a particular source.

5.2 Temperature

Temperature is an important aspect of water quality since it influences many physical, biological and chemical characteristics of a river. For example, temperature affects:

1. the amount of oxygen that can be dissolved in water (DO);

2. the rate of photosynthesis by algae and larger aquatic plants;

3. the metabolic rates of aquatic organisms;

4. the sensitivity of organisms to toxic wastes, parasites, and diseases;

The primary cause of change in water temperature is thermal pollution. The main source of this is runoff that has been heated on paved surfaces as well as process/cooling water. As water temperature increases so does the rate of photosynthesis and plant growth. More plants grow and die. As plants die, they are decomposed by bacteria that consume oxygen. Therefore, when the rate of photosynthesis increases, the need for oxygen in the water (Biological Oxygen Demand) also increases. (Mitchell et al.,1993)

The surfaces that are drained, and length of time water spends in the drain itself may all contribute to the temperature of the water upon entry to Laurel Creek. Water testing in July 1994 revealed that the water in the drain was 16.7 degrees Celsius, a temperature much cooler than originally predicted. The unexpected cool temperature may be due to the time of testing which was during a dry spell, when there was little and relatively slow moving effluent coming from the MC drain. The slow movement of the water in the underground drain may have lowered the temperature of the water. Conversely, after a storm event, the water temperature from the drain would likely be warmer than the precipitation due to heating of the rain on concrete surfaces. The rapid transport of water during a storm event would also not allow for underground cooling.

Chart 2 shows a clear relationship between air and water temperature. The higher temperature of water in the summer months is a result of the warmer air temperature. However, the water temperature increase may also be attributed to other factors such as the warming of precipitation when it comes in contact with heated concrete and asphalt surfaces. The figure also reveals that water acts as a moderator to temperature change, as it requires more energy to change the temperature in water than air.

The relationship between water temperature in the MC drain and other sites along Laurel Creek are shown in Chart 3. Measurements taken in the winter indicate that the water temperature in the MC drain was warmer than in the creek. This may be due to the insulation effect of the storm drains which shield the water from outside environmental influences such as air temperature.

Lower temperatures in the MC drain during the summer months may also be due to the drain's insulating effect, and the speed at which the water moves through the drain, relative to a stagnant holding pond such as the Health and Safety Reflection Pool. Obviously, organisms living within the mixing zone would have to be tolerant to these seasonal thermal stresses.

5.3 Conductivity and Chloride


Conductivity, k, is a measure of the ability of an aqueous solution to carry an electric current. This ability depends on the presence of ions; on their total concentration, mobility and valence; and on the temperature of measurement. Conductance, G, is defined as the reciprocal of resistance, R:

G = 1/R

where the unit of R is ohm and G is ohm- 1. Conductance of a solution is measured between two spatially fixed and chemically inert (graphite) electrodes. The conductance of the solution, G, is directly proportional to the electrode surface area, A (cm2), and inversely proportional to the distance between electrodes, L (cm):

G = k (A/L)

Conductivity, k, is the characteristic property of any solution being tested and indicates the

concentration of ions present. Often, laboratories use a standard KCl solution and determine a standard k value before testing samples. The purpose of a standard lies in the fact that most

conductivity meters do not display the actual solution conductance, G, or resistance, R; rather, they have a dial that permits the user to adjust the internal cell constant to match the conductivity, ks, of a standard. Only after good conductivity data has been collected, the presence of individual ions may be determined.

Laboratory conductivity measurements are used to:

a) Establish a degree of mineralization to assess the effect of the total concentration of ions on chemical equilibria, physiological effect on plants or animals, corrosion rates, etc.

b) Evaluate variations in dissolved mineral concentration of raw water or waste water.

Minor seasonal variations found in reservoir waters contrast sharply with the daily fluctuations in some polluted river waters. Waste water containing significant trade wastes also may show a considerable daily variation. (Standard Methods, 1981)


Chlorides are universally present in sewage and many industrial wastes and occur naturally in most waters as Cl- . The presence of chloride ions increases the salinity of the water. The chloride concentration is higher in waste water than in raw water since sodium chloride (salt) is a common element of diet and passes unchanged through the digestive system. Chloride

concentrations may be increased along sea coasts due to leakage of salt water into the sewer

system. The presence of industrial activity may also increase chloride concentrations. A high chloride content may harm metallic pipes and structures. In terms of aquatic environments, high chloride levels affect all organisms by altering their life cycles and modifying the ability of water in biological systems (Hazen, 1889).

The level of conductivity in the MC drain was revealed to be far greater than other points along Laurel Creek. One February measurement indicated the conductivity of the MC drain to be almost 7 times of that in Laurel Creek. Because of dilution, however, it is debatable whether the high levels of conductivity in the drain have a significant impact on the creek. Chart 4 indicates that the conductivity in Laurel Creek increased only marginally with a sizeable increase of conductivity in the drain.

There was a significant relationship between conductivity and chloride levels. Chart 5.0, which graphs the level of chloride over time, peaks on the same days as conductivity reached its highest levels. The graphs of both parameters indicate a trend of high conductivity primarily during the winter months, and particularly when there was snow cover on the ground. Road salt is a probable source of the level of conductivity in the drain. In contrast to the maximum allowable standard for chloride in drinking water which was set at 250 mg/L by Health and Welfare Canada, the levels of chloride in the creek frequently reached levels in the thousands. Only one third of the levels of chloride measured in the drain for the 24 testing times were found to be under the allowable limit. The implication of the high levels of chloride in water, though important for aquatic life survival, is not significant in terms of drinking water quality standards. "The main consideration regarding chloride is prevention of undesirable taste in water beverages." (Canadian Water Quality Guidelines, 1987). However, the standard for fresh water quality in aquatic environments was grossly exceeded by the level of chloride in the drain, as the permissible level is 2.0 mg/L, and none of the chloride samples taken measured lower than 24 mg/L.

5.4 Phosphates

Phosphorus occurs in natural waters and in waste waters almost solely as phosphates. These are classified as orthophosphates, condensed phosphates (pyro- , meta- , and other polyphosphates), and organically bound phosphates. Organic phosphate is an essential part of living plants and animals, their by- products, and their remains. Inorganic phosphates are usually found bonded to soil particles and are present in laundry detergents. Other sources include phosphates that are used in the treatment of boiler waters and agricultural fertilisers (orthophosphates). Phosphorus is also known as the nutrient that limits the primary productivity of a body of water. In instances where phosphate is a growth- limiting nutrient, the discharge of raw or treated waste water, agricultural drainage, or certain industrial wastes to that water may stimulate the growth of photosynthetic aquatic micro- and macro- organisms in nuisance quantities.(American Pulbic Health Association, 1992) The presence of excess phosphorous in a body of water will cause algae blooms, and increased plant growth. As a result of this, in the advanced stages, a body of water will be completely depleted of dissolved oxygen, and will turn anaerobic, giving it a "rotten egg" smell. (Mitchell et al., 1993) The lack of oxygen, again, will result in the extermination of different species of plant and animal life.

Chart 6 illustrates the fluctuation of phosphate concentrations in the MC drain and in Laurel Creek. Three of the eight measurements revealed a disproportionately high level of phosphate in the drain compared to the other testing sites in Laurel Creek. Fertilisers used on the University campus may have affected the phosphate levels in the drain causing them to increase significantly during the spring and fall. The fresh water quality standards for phosphate concentration is 0.01 - 0.05 mg/L. Most levels of phosphate measured in the drain were within this range or below 0.01 mg/L.

5.5 Faecal Coliform

Faecal coliform bacteria are found in the faeces of humans and other warm blooded animals. These bacteria enter rivers through direct discharge, from agricultural and storm runoff carrying wastes from birds and mammals, and from human sewage discharged into the water.

Faecal coliforms by themselves are not pathogenic but may be accompanied by pathogenic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause diseases and illnesses. Faecal coliform bacteria naturally occur in the human digestive tract, and aid in the digestion of food. In infected individuals, pathogenic organisms are found along with faecal coliform bacteria.

If faecal coliform counts are high (over 200 colonies/ 100 mL of water sample) in the river, there is a greater chance that pathogenic organisms are also present. Diseases and illness such as typhoid fever, hepatitis, and ear infections can be contracted from contact with waters high in faecal coliform counts (Mitchell, 1993).

There was a high count of both faecal and total coliform in samples that were tested in July 1994. The results indicated faecal coliform at a count of 400, and total coliform at a count of 600. "The geometric mean of not less than five samples taken over a 30 day period should be less than 200 faecal coliforms per 100 mL. Furthermore, resampling should be done in any sample that exceeds 400 faecal coliforms per 100 mL." (Canadian Water Quality Guidelines, 1983).

However, due to laboratory and time constraints, extensive testing of coliform to the extent

mentioned above, was not feasible. It is important to note that the standard set by the CWQG pertains only to human health concerns and not to the ecological viability of the Laurel Creek system. These human health concerns can include both contact (swimming) and non-contact (boating) activities.

The presence of high levels of faecal coliforms was puzzling. No doubt some of the coliform contamination can be attributed to waterfowl and small animals on and near the campus. The Northeast portion of the campus served by the MC drain is not home to significant numbers of ducks, unlike other areas on campus, and there are no known mammals (other than possibly rodents) living in the drain.

5.6 Dissolved Oxygen

Chart 7 indicates the level of dissolved oxygen in the drain and Laurel Creek testing sites over a duration of approximately three years. No significant fluctuations occurred for the date tested; however, there was a noticeable association between season and dissolved oxygen levels. As temperature increases during the summer months, the capacity of the water to dissolve oxygen decreases. Conversely, as the water temperature decreases, the ability of the water to dissolve oxygen increases. For example, the MC drain's effluent was both colder and higher in dissolved oxygen than the creek.

5.7 Turbidity

Turbidity is defined by American Public Health Association APHA (1985) as "the expression of the optical property that causes light to be scattered and absorbed rather than transmitted in straight lines through the sample (Mack, 1988)." This scattering is caused by particles suspended in the water such as clays or silts, algae, organic detrital, and other fine insoluble sediments. Turbidity is measured using nephelometric turbidity units (NTU). Nephelometry is the measurement of light scattered at right angles to the incident light beam passing through a sample. The adverse effects of turbidity can result in aesthetic and functional impairment of recreational use, impaired productivity and adverse impacts on the food chain because of reduced light penetration, avoidance by fish populations, and impaired treatment of drinking water. In general, turbidity determines the clarity of the water, although there is no direct correlation between turbidity and total suspended solids (Mack, 1988).

Examining Chart 8 shows that there is no trend for the turbidity levels and the different sampling points. A literature search revealed no definitive turbidity limits for wildlife habitat, however the drinking water quality level is set at 5 NTUs in the United States (Mack, 1988). It appears that there is also no correlation between the time of the year and turbidity levels. During dry weather the turbidity levels are generally higher in the creek than in the MC drain. During wet weather the turbidity levels in the MC drain rise as runoff enters the system. During wet weather more suspended particles enter into the creek and especially into the drain. Turbidity and thus, water quality, is influenced by the weather conditions immediately prior to or at the time of sampling.

6.0 Visual Samples

The intent of visual sampling was to determine if oil and petroleum were present in the storm sewers. Although visual sampling usually entails more sophisticated scientific measures, only simple parameters were utilised due to the lack of resources and technical experience. Parameters included: colour, odour, sediment content, temperature, and water depth of the drain.

Petrochemicals (oils, gasoline, grease, etc.) can be detected as a visible film, sheen or

discoloration on surface, and by odour. Sampling was conducted on June 20, 1994 at

approximately 7:00 p.m.. Prior to this time, there was no rain for several days. As presented earlier, visual sampling data can be found in Table 2.0.

7.0 Project Limitations and Sources of Error

There were many factors that affected the outcome of this project. The time constraint imposed by hectic schedules of students, staff, and faculty involved in WATGREEN projects was likely the number one problem. This was exacerbated by vacation absences -- inevitable accoutrements to the Spring university term. The four-month term structure for courses at the University of Waterloo is another problem. Universities or colleges with eight-month courses could expand the project time for this subject.

Although every possible attempt was made to verify data and ensure accuracy, the data compiled for this study may not accurately represent the fluctuations of natural parameters in both the storm drain and in the creek. This is in part due to:

* Seasonal and daily variations in Creek levels and inputs

* Historical gaps in testing dates

* Limited number of testing sites

* Limited access to laboratory equipment

* Limited number of parameters tested

* Daily weather variations

* Lack of funding to conduct full spectrum chemical analysis

* Human error in testing

8.0 Suggestions for Remediation

Storm drain contamination can be resolved using two approaches: pollution control at the source of the problem, and remediation after the contamination has occurred. Both approaches have constraints that may hinder the effectiveness of remedial action. Reduction or elimination of contamination at the source is dependent on a number of variables including public resistance to lifestyle change, availability of alternatives, feasibility and effectiveness of alternatives, and cost. Remediation after contamination has occurred, is restricted by feasibility and effectiveness of engineered solutions and the resulting implementation and maintenance costs.

8.1 The Dilution Factor

In addition to the constraints mentioned above, the significance of contamination levels must also be determined. The dilution factor is a critical component of the analysis because it determines the importance of the contamination from the drain when diluted by the whole Creek. If the dilution of storm water in the Creek is sufficient to overcome contamination, it would be difficult to justify source elimination measures that might require changing human activities and behaviour. The results of calculations for the dilution factor are shown in Table 2.0 . The volume discharge in cubic metres per second was calculated by other researchers at the MC drain, at Health and Safety, and at University/Westmount on various sampling dates. In the table the water in the drain is shown as a percentage of the total creek volume at a random point just below the confluence of the two systems. The percentage was converted to a ratio to show the relative contribution of drain, from which a mean ratio of 1:21 (approximately 4 percent) was determined for Drain vs Health and Safety, and a mean of 1:53 ( approximately 2 percent) for the Drain vs University/Westmount. For the purpose of calculation of the mean, the anomalously small numbers from November 18, 1993 (a) were disregarded.

Because chlorides were identified as the main source of chemical contamination among the parameters tested and levels regularly exceeded drinking water standards of 250 mg/L, this was considered the most important application for the dilution factor. On February 18, 1994 at 12 PM water testing showed chloride levels of 23,045 mg/L in the drain, 8468 mg/L at Health and Safety, and 250 mg/L at University and Westmount. Using the mean dilution ratio for the drain, its contribution was calculated at 23,045/21 = 1097, which when added to the background level at Health and Safety results in a total chloride level of 1097 + 8468 =9565 mg/L immediately after the confluence of the drain and the Creek. For the same testing time chloride levels at University and Westmount were only 250 mg/L.

These calculations suggest the Creek may receive enough water along the campus to dilute the contamination from the drain. They do not shed any light on the impact of the contaminants in the mixing zone or dilution area, or the ultimate sources of those contaminants. More research is needed to determine the impact of the drain immediately downstream from the confluence with the Creek.

It is important to note that even if dilution of the MC drain mitigates the negative impacts of contaminants from that drainage network, it is also possible that the cumulative impact of storm drains from the University campus and municipalities in the Region of Waterloo on Laurel Creek might be significant enough to warrant (severe) remediation methods.

8.2 Weather considerations for remediation

Sheffield (1982) specified a number of weather considerations for treatment of runoff and design of remediative structures. These include storm intensity, storm duration and distribution in the watershed, land use, and topographical features such as hills, wetlands, soil type and ground cover. In reference to runoff contamination in Florida, he noted the importance of treating the initial runoff from a storm event. " Water quality sampling of storm sewer outfalls within the Central Florida areas and in many cases nation-wide studies [U.S.A.] have indicated that the majority of the pollution load is within the first 10-20 minutes of flow from each storm. Assuming the average storm has a maximum intensity of 2 inches (5cm) per hour, with 80 percent falling in the first 10-20 minutes, one-half to one inch of rain would fall during this period. This is the amount of most concern and which treatment efforts should concentrate on."(Sheffield, 1982)

8.3 Remediation suggestions for specific contaminants

The following recommendations are those that may improve the quality of water in the MC drain before it enters the creek, or prevent the drain effluent from being contaminated in the first place. It is important to note that these recommendations will only make a valid contribution to the water quality of the creek if the impact of the MC drain is deemed significant, or if the accumulated impact of all drains upstream and downstream of the MC drain is significant. Therefore, these recommendations should only be implemented after the necessary follow-up studies suggested in Section 10 are completed.

8.3.1 High flow, low percolation and infiltration

Most of the MC drain outlet is impermeable cement, both on the bottom and on the banks. This accelerates the velocity of the water and reduces friction. It also prevents water from

infiltrating into the ground and percolating through the substrata. The efficiency of removal of suspended particles by infiltration varies from pollutant to pollutant (Smith, 1982), but percolation is nearly 100 percent effective at removing BOD5, phosphorous, bacteria, and suspended material. Other pollutants such as dissolved metals or salts may be carried into the groundwater or transported via the groundwater gradient and resurface down- gradient.

Alternatively, raising the elevation of the connector drains on the Campus Centre side of the road and installing a vertical percolation tank with an open bottom could be considered. The tank would have to be large enough to accommodate baseline flow and the first 3 mm of rainfall in the drainage area. Some of the campus drains could be converted to open bottom designs to permit soil infiltration.

A block and gravel curb inlet sediment barrier can be used at curb inlets to filter debris and act as a sediment trap for source contamination.

8.3.2 Low Dissolved Oxygen (LDO)

Boulders heavy enough to withstand the pressure of peak flow conditions would function as

baffles to increase turbulence, increase dissolved oxygen, and lower water temperature. Lower dissolved oxygen levels are a winter problem in the drain when temperatures are higher than the creek.

8.3.3 High Temperature

Planting or transplanting of thick foliage along the sides of the drain outlet would provide year- round instream cover and stabilize the banks. This would have the additional benefit of providing wildlife habitat for that stretch of the drain outlet. Coniferous trees such as cedars that are tolerant of wet conditions and thorny native shrubs are examples of appropriate plants.

8.3.4 Chlorides and dissolved ions

The best way to lower Chloride levels is to reduce the use of salt to de- ice winter roads.

8.3.5 Other contaminants

Until other contaminants such as oil and gas and industrial solvents are identified for certain, and their definitive sources are known, it will be impossible to attempt elimination at source. However, there is much work that could be done in the education of consumers, businesses and industry about the proper disposal of those items.

9.0 Conclusions and Recommendations

9.1 The need for more research

Perhaps the most logical conclusion this study can offer is that more research is necessary. This report should be considered a preliminary study into specific levels of a defined set of parameters in the MC drain. Before attempting to improve the quality of water in the storm drains, all significant forms of contamination and their sources should be identified. From the data gathered for this report, it was determined that chlorides are the main cause of contamination in the water collected by the Math and Computer Drainage network. Chlorides were present in samples year round at rates consistently above the background level of the Creek; however, the level was exponentially higher in the winter testing period due to salting of roads. Other contaminants present in samples collected for visual study or chemical tests included oil, sediment, lawn and tree debris, litter, and faeces. The presence of oil in the storm drains may be due to leakage from cars. The concentration of faecal coliforms may be due to wildlife faeces which are washed from lawns into storm drains. In the winter, thermal shock from warmed surfaces causes a temperature gradient of several degrees Celsius between the drain water and that of Laurel Creek and a decrease in dissolved oxygen. This is exacerbated by the absence of shade in winter that is provided by deciduous trees in the summer.

Although testing revealed the absolute levels of a few contaminants on a few specific dates, the researchers could only make assumptions as to the overall significance of contamination from the MC drain on Laurel Creek. This was based on rather crude calculations of the dilution factor. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that further research should be done to determine the cumulative impacts of the many storm drains which empty into the campus portion of Laurel Creek. Specific parameters tested in the MC drain also require further study. In particular, the abnormal levels of chloride, conductivity, and faecal and total coliforms found in the drain should prompt further study.

This study identified possible land uses and human activities that likely impact water quality in the drain and in the Creek. However, no sources could be pinpointed with absolute certainty. The identification of specific sources and locations of contamination would be helpful for remedial action. It may be useful to determine how people perceive the function of the drain. A survey of residents and industry adjacent to storm drains may reveal that storm drains are perceived as a place for waste water and/or chemical disposal. The survey may also indicate certain activities that misuse the storm drains. For example, a survey of gas station workers at the intersection of Philip Street and Columbia Street may reveal that the storm drains on site are used for old oil disposal, or that wastewater from the car wash is deposited directly into the storm drain system.

In some areas the storm drain system runs parallel to the sanitary sewer system. If there are cracks in the sanitary sewer it could contaminate the storm sewer, and in turn, Laurel Creek. This theory cannot be ruled out as a possible explanation for faecal coliforms.

9.2 Future WATGREEN projects

There are many possibilities for future WATGREEN projects that have arisen from this study. These include:

* Faecal and Total Coliform tests to determine if this is a significant and regular source of contamination in the Drain and the Creek.

* Study the invertebrates, vertebrates and plants in the mixing zones of the Creek to understand their population structures and their capacity for adaptation to and tolerance of high chloride levels.

* Survey off-campus businesses and nearby residents to determine their perceptions and use of the storm drain, and any uses that may contravene City, Regional, or Provincial laws.

* Conduct a full-spectrum chemical analysis of water in the Creek, the MC drain, and most importantly, water in the source drains on and off campus.

* Conduct a study into the feasibility of reducing road salt used by the City of Waterloo and the University of Waterloo in areas adjacent to Laurel Creek or drained by storm sewers that feed the Creek.

* Repeat the Experience `75 project in 1995.

* Establish a system to collect Laurel Creek data from all research projects and class experiments and maintain a data base that will be accessible for future researchers.


Actor Systems

Actor systems are comprised of both the main persons or stakeholders in an issue and the social rules and power structure in which they operate. These are the people who are affected directly or indirectly by a problem and who may have a vested interest in its outcome. Actor systems can include core actors who are at the centre of an issue, supporting actors who are less involved but can exert influence over an issue, and should- be actors who may be affected by a problem or its solutions but are unable to participate in problem resolution or who are unaware of the issue (University of Waterloo, 1993).

Actor Systems for the Math and Computer Drain Analysis and Remediation Project

Core Actors

Researchers (ERS 285 Students)

Health and Safety Staff (University of Waterloo)

Plant Operations Staff (University of Waterloo)

Polluters on and/or adjacent to the University of Waterloo Campus with access

to the storm sewer system

City of Waterloo Engineering, Fire, Parks and Public Health Departments

Supporting Actors

Ecology Laboratory staff

Naturalists and NGOs

Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Energy

Grand River Conservation Authority

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

Regional Municipality of Waterloo and adjacent townships

Canada Department of Fisheries

Canada Department of Inland Waters

Should- be Actors

Commercial and residential property owners and tenants near the University of

Waterloo and Laurel Creek

Students, staff and faculty of the University of Waterloo

Residents and users of the Laurel Creek, Grand River, and ultimately the Great Lakes watersheds


May 30 Project Definition

May 30- June 3 Meet with Plant Operations, Health & Safety, and collect existing data

June 7 Water Quality testing at MC drain

June 9 Study Design

June 20 Visual sample collection

June 16 Example Analysis

June 20 Analysis and Recommendations, literature research

to July 13 and follow-up sampling

July 13 Data Analysis and compilation

July 14 Draft Project Report

July 21 Presentation

July 28 Final Report


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