Contamination of Urban Surface Water by Vehicle Emissions

Urban water management has been compromised by the addition of impervious surfaces as development spreads from central cities out to suburban areas. Many streams, rivers, and lakes are now sinks for stormwater that previously permeated into soils and recharged groundwater supplies. The problem is twofold. First, the quantity of stormwater runoff has increased due to the increasing size of developed catchment areas that include parking lots, roads, and other impermeable surfaces. Second, the quality of stormwater runoff has degraded as contaminants emitted from vehicles are washed from these surfaces into storm sewers and ultimately reach bodies of water without treatment. This project estimates the impact of vehicles on the quality of stormwater runoff using Syracuse as a case study. The project will obtain information on vehicle miles traveled in sections of the Syracuse metropolitan area and the amounts of various contaminants emitted and deposited on surfaces in the urban area. The project will use this information with precipitation intensity and frequency data to model the amount of each contaminant in stormwater runoff. The model results will be compared with concentration measurements for surface runoff collected in areas where input data are known. To the extent possible, a special effort will be made to use known markers of vehicle emissions to determine the contribution of local vehicles to the mix of mobile and stationary source emissions as well as long range transport of contaminants. The environmental pathways followed by vehicle contaminants in a watershed such as the Harbor Brook Watershed in Syracuse. Note that the contaminants are transferred from one environmental medium to another and may change form in the process. For example, a chemical species may be emitted from a vehicle as a particle, partially evaporate or degrade in the atmosphere before it deposits onto a surface, and then dissolve in storm water runoff. Hence following a contaminant moving through the environment may not necessarily be straightforward.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $160000.00
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Performing Organizations:

    Syracuse University

    L.C. Smith College of Engineering & Computer Science
    223 Link Hall
    Syracuse, NY  United States  13244
  • Principal Investigators:

    Salem, Sam

    Chandler, David

    Davidson, Cliff

  • Start Date: 20120102
  • Expected Completion Date: 20160131
  • Actual Completion Date: 20170500
  • Source Data: RiP Project 31925

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01571802
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12GUTC17, KLK900-SB-004
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Jul 30 2015 1:01AM