Assessing effects of highway bridge deck runoff on near-by recieving waters in coastal margins using remote monitoring techniques



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Texas A&M University


Most of the pollution found in highway runoff is both directly and indirectly contributed by vehicles such as cars and trucks. The constituents that contribute the majority of the pollution, such as metals, chemical oxygen demand, oil and grease, are generally deposited on the highways. These can become very harmful and detrimental to human health when they come in contact with our water system. The connecting tie between these harmful highway-made pollution and our water system, which includes our ground waters and surface waters, is rainfall. The main objective of this runoff study was to characterize and assess the quantity and quality of the storm water runoff of a bridge deck that discharged into a receiving water body. The bridge deck and the creek were located in the coastal margin region in the southeast area of Texas on the border of Harris and Galveston counties. Flow-activated water samplers and flow-measuring devices were installed to quantitatively determine the rate of flow of the bridge deck and determine different pollutant loading by sampling the receiving water body (Clear Creek). The collected samples were analyzed for total suspended solids, toxic metals, and other relevant constituents of concerns. The results illustrated that the runoff from the bridge deck exhibited low total suspended solids concentrations (which were highest in the creek). However, other metal constituents like the zinc and cooper concentration were high and above standards. The phosphate concentrations in the creek were the highest and exceeded EPA standards. Several nitrate concentrations were also noticeably above EPA standards.