• GlasPort Bio Ltd - overall Rushlight Award winners, reduce gas & add value to manure Awards & Standards
    GlasPort Bio Ltd - overall Rushlight Award winners, reduce gas & add value to manure

    Animal manure has long been recognised as a valuable fertiliser and a source of renewable energy. It is also a major source of pollution, with emissions from stored manure accounting for approximately 15% of all agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and more than 70% of all ammonia emissions in Europe.

  • Ion Science - new protection against VOCs Health & safety
    Ion Science - new protection against VOCs

    Offering a new level of enhanced, reliable protection against VOCs with the first 11.7 Cub personal solution from ION Science.

    In a 2018 report from the UN, it was revealed that a worker dies every 30 seconds due to exposure to toxic gases in the workplace. That such statistics still exist today is one of the reasons ION Science is working hard to create protective technologies for workers against VOC exposure. The new 11.7 eV Cub personal solution is the first of its kind and promises to be a game-changer for protection against exposure.

    ion science VOC sensorThe Cub 11.7 eV personal device is the latest addition to ION Science's world-leadingrange of gas and leak detection products. Using their 30 years of industry experienceand their extensive knowledge of both volatile organic compounds (VOCs) andphotoionisation detection (PID), ION Science continue to deliver excellence in protection for workers.

    The 11.7 eV sensor lamp is a notoriously difficult lamp to manufacture. Due to its highly sensitive nature, 11.7 eV devices in the past have been temperamental, require frequent lamp changes and ultimately end up with increased environmental exposure, affecting performance of the device.

    ION Science has tackled this issue and developed a refined manufacturing method that eliminates some of the sensitivities and issues previously associated with 11.7 eV detection.

    As the first 11.7 personal detection solution from ION Science, the Cub 11.7 offers all the features a customer would expect from the market leader.

    This includes resistance to humidity and moisture, operational in temperatures from 0-55 degrees, and intrinsically safe even in explosive environments. Its lightweight design at only 111g makes it comfortable for wearers and the small size doesn't impede movement or work.

    Unrivalled Gas Detection.

  • CORE (UK) Ltd - Supply chain pioneers win Queens Award Awards & Standards
    CORE (UK) Ltd - Supply chain pioneers win Queens Award

    Supply chain pioneers, CORE (UK) Ltd, win The Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade

    CORE (UK) Ltd, leaders in digital supply chain management software have been awarded the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade for outstanding growth and commercial success in international trade.

  • Enviva - Sustainable Benefits of the Wood Pellet Industry Energy & Resource Management
    Enviva - Sustainable Benefits of the Wood Pellet Industry

    Sustainable Benefits of the Wood Pellet Industry - by Dr. Jennifer Jenkins, Chief Sustainability Officer at Enviva

    Healthy, growing forests remain one of the most critical tools in the fight to mitigate climate change, and sustainable forest management is part of every plan outlined by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the "IPCC") to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

v ecohouse button

web mossborough spud field copy

Wednesday, 29 November 2017 10:14

Urban runoff – the forgotten polluter?

Jo Bradley, Market Development Manager, SDS Limited, takes a look at a neglected issue..... Rainwater that runs off impervious surfaces such as roads, roofs and car parks can carry with it hazardous pollutants.  Heavy storms pose not only a risk of flooding but the danger of delivering poisonous metals and hydrocarbons to sensitive rivers, streams and groundwaters.

flood - High risk discharges need extra treatment webMost environmental professionals are aware of the problem. Yet, while air pollution in our towns and cities is now firmly in the grip of the public consciousness, surface water pollution is frequently overlooked and inconsistently monitored, as well as being poorly controlled in the UK.  

Furthermore, infiltration of polluted water to the ground is considered acceptable for higher risk locations, in cases where such an approach is questionable at least; and certainly should be subject to closer scrutiny and monitoring.

Pounding an Environmental Beat
My career began more than 25 years ago and I earned my stripes pounding an environmental beat in Lancashire, investigating pollution incidents for what was originally the National Rivers Authority, later becoming the Environment Agency.  There can be little doubt that regulation has become more complex since those days and less consistently enforced.

During my career, I’ve become convinced that Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) offer the best approaches to treating surface water runoff.  What’s more, the necessary professional knowledge, regulatory tools, drainage devices and technologies are already available; we just need to apply them.   

A year ago, I left the Environment Agency for a new life working for SDS, a manufacturer of proprietary surface water drainage. To some it might have seemed an odd move, but for me it was a logical way of encouraging practical and pragmatic delivery of SuDS for environmental protection.

floods feature Jo Bradley webRegulation
Much of the debate, policymaking and guidance on SuDS has focused on flood control in new development, particularly in England, and SuDS schemes tend to focus on quantities of water, runoff rates and volumes.
Meanwhile, a patchwork of regulations covering water pollution across the devolved regions of the UK is in place to reflect the European Water Framework Directive’s goal to achieve ‘good’ ecological status for water bodies. Scotland is the most advanced and successful, operating under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) Regulations (2011).  
In England and Wales, the Environmental Permitting Regulations (2016) give the regulators powers to require operators to apply for a permit where there is a risk of water or groundwater pollution.  In practice, the regulators mostly rely on voluntary improvements and, while it’s encouraging that treatment schemes are being introduced without permits, by Highways England for example, such interventions are limited and inconsistent and little monitoring is taking place to see if they are adequate.

Low-Risk Sites
On low-risk sites, such as residential developments and pedestrian areas, surface water pollutants such as oil residues and faecal matter from dogs and birds can be readily broken down in vegetative SuDS like swales and basins, where micro-organisms thrive in the upper layers of soil.  In a well-designed pond, the mechanisms which break down pollutants range from nutrient uptake in plants to breakdown by the sun’s rays, so that the capacity to mitigate pollution is impressive.
On a low-risk development with an effective stormwater management system in place that includes attenuation, in order to manage flow rates, and storage, to manage discharge volumes, any lingering pollutants will be treated and broken down in the drainage components that are included to manage water quantity.    
Slowing the flow of the water and holding it in ponds, basins, below-ground tanks or swales, will allow time for pollutants to be broken down.  
On such low-risk sites, pollution prevention is not a key concern unless the receiving environment is very sensitive or the discharge poses a risk to a protected species.  

flood - Highway in rain image webHigh-Risk Sites
On higher-risk sites such as motorways, trunk roads, retail car parks, commercial facilities, freight and logistics centres, the nature of pollutants is very different and, even at very low levels, the persistent, toxic and bioaccumulative pollutants in runoff can cause harm to the aquatic environment.
Pollutants from vehicle exhausts, brake pads, atmospheric deposition and fuel spills cannot be dealt with simply by slowing the flow of the water, allowing the sediment to settle out and relying on micro-organisms to do the rest.  
Of most concern for the aquatic environment, and for human health, are metals, particularly copper and zinc, and a spectrum of chemicals known as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including benzo[a]pyrene.  
Not all pollutants can be broken down biologically.  Dissolved metals cannot be broken down at all and copper and zinc are directly toxic, so will affect aquatic species as soon as they enter the watercourse.  
Metals in runoff have been shown to reduce species numbers of both macroinvertebrates and photosynthesising algae in rivers and streams, which in turn affects fish and other aquatic species by reducing the amount of food available to them. Fish spawning grounds can also be affected by the sedimentation of contaminated solids.

Stormwater Treatment
A drainage design should maximise the opportunities for vegetative features that provide habitats and havens for native species and for the local community to enjoy.  However, using vegetative components alone could be counterproductive on high-risk sites; designing a vegetative treatment device that can be a habitat for wildlife, then contaminating it with toxic metals and hydrocarbons, makes no sense at all.
A SuDS management train of apparatus, that incorporates vegetative and manufactured devices, is often the best way to manage pollutants effectively in higher risk locations and keep persistent bioaccumulative chemicals out of the environment.  This will also ensure that a vegetative SuDS feature operates effectively for the maximum length of time between essential maintenance, for example by preventing a pond from silting up too quickly.
A hydrodynamic vortex separator such as the SDS Aqua-Swirl™ can remove pollution carried in sediment where high pollutant loads are expected. For even more challenging sites, the SDS Aqua-FilterTM combines vortex separation and filtration of stormwater to deliver reliable removal of suspended solids and soluble pollutants together.
Especially as the Government prepares for environmental legislation post Brexit, it’s essential that the public and politicians are aware of the threats to our water quality.  As professionals, we need to work to ensure current regulation is applied consistently, as well as to explore and embrace a full range of treatment technologies to protect sensitive environmental locations effectively.