A new type of water pollution

concrete drainage infrastructure and geochemical contamination of urban waters

I. A. Wright*, P. J. Davies, S. J. Findlay, O. J. Jonasson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    49 Citations (Scopus)


    Stormwater and other urban runoff is often conveyed by concrete infrastructure and it is plausible that the chemistry of urban streams is modified by the leaching of minerals from this infrastructure. We tested this hypothesis by analysing major anions, cations and other chemical variables from urban and reference freshwater streams in northern Sydney. Urban streams tended towards neutral pH whereas non-urban reference streams were acidic. Bicarbonate levels were more than 10 times higher and calcium concentrations were more than six times higher in urban streams than reference streams. Experimental analysis revealed that the chemistry of rainwater changed when passed through concrete pipes and down concrete gutters, suggesting dissolution of cement products from various concrete materials used for urban drainage. This study concluded that the use of concrete particularly its application for urban drainage is responsible for some of the modifications to urban stream geochemistry. Thus, urban geology should be considered as an important factor that contributes to the urban stream syndrome.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1355-1361
    Number of pages7
    JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • concrete stormwater systems
    • hydrochemistry
    • Sydney
    • urban water quality

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