Impacts from urban water systems on receiving waters – How to account for severe wet-weather events in LCA? - École des Ponts ParisTech Access content directly
Journal Articles Water Research Year : 2017

Impacts from urban water systems on receiving waters – How to account for severe wet-weather events in LCA?


Sewage systems are a vital part of the urban infrastructure in most cities. They provide drainage, which protects public health, prevents the flooding of property and protects the water environment around urban areas. On some occasions sewers will overflow into the water environment during heavy rain potentially causing unacceptable impacts from releases of untreated sewage into the environment. In typical Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies of urban wastewater systems (UWS), average dry-weather conditions are modelled while wet-weather flows from UWS, presenting a high temporal variability, are not currently accounted for. In this context, the loads from several storm events could be important contributors to the impact categories freshwater eutrophication and ecotoxicity. In this study we investigated the contributions of these wet-weather-induced discharges relative to average dry-weather conditions in the life cycle inventory for UWS. In collaboration with the Paris public sanitation service (SIAAP) and Observatory of Urban Pollutants (OPUR) program researchers, this work aimed at identifying and comparing contributing flows from the UWS in the Paris area by a selection of routine wastewater parameters and priority pollutants. This collected data is organized according to archetypal weather days during a reference year. Then, for each archetypal weather day and its associated flows to the receiving river waters (Seine), the parameters of pollutant loads (statistical distribution of concentrations and volumes) were determined. The resulting inventory flows (i.e. the potential loads from the UWS) were used as LCA input data to assess the associated impacts. This allowed investigating the relative importance of episodic wet-weather versus “continuous” dry-weather loads with a probabilistic approach to account for pollutant variability within the urban flows. The analysis at the scale of one year showed that storm events are significant contributors to the impacts of freshwater eutrophication and ecotoxicity compared to those arising from treated effluents. At the rain event scale the wet-weather contributions to these impacts are even more significant, accounting for example for up to 88% of the total impact on freshwater ecotoxicity. This also allowed investigating and discussing the ecotoxicity contribution of each class of pollutants among the broad range of inventoried substances. Finally, with such significant contributions of pollutant loads and associated impacts from wet-weather events, further research is required to better include temporally-differentiated emissions when evaluating eutrophication and ecotoxicity. This will provide a better understanding of how the performance of an UWS system affects the receiving environment for given local weather conditions.
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Dates and versions

hal-01622102 , version 1 (16-05-2020)



Eva Risch, Johnny Gasperi, Marie-Christine Gromaire, Ghassan Chebbo, Sam Azimi, et al.. Impacts from urban water systems on receiving waters – How to account for severe wet-weather events in LCA?. Water Research, 2017, 128, pp.412-423. ⟨10.1016/j.watres.2017.10.039⟩. ⟨hal-01622102⟩
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