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Sustainable strategies to treat urban runoff

Lakes and rivers in urban areas are contaminated by plastic debris, detergents, pesticides, heavy metals and other contaminants. But new research shows that urban runoff toxicity is ill-defined. It is also potentially underestimated in the whole world. Researchers like Nathalie Tufenkji who is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at McGill University and Canada Research Chair in Biocolloids and Surfaces has called for cities to better manage and treat urban runoff in order to protect sources of drinking water and reduce the impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

Urban areas are kept increasing and urban runoff is also increasing with it. This is directly impacting surface water quality and storage. This can cause acute toxicity to aquatic organisms. This can also present a chronic risk to ecosystems and to humans via seafood and drinking water. We can take the example of urban runoff mortality syndrome which is a phenomenon and it describes mass die-offs in salmon because of untreated storm-water.

Scientists said that international actions and policies could be implemented to control pollutant release. It can also prevent adverse ecological impacts. Tufenkji said that cities need sustainable technologies to simultaneously treat and store runoff. Some examples of these sustainable solutions are retention ponds and settling tanks. Such retention processes could act as on-site surge tanks. It will remove several contaminants from runoff before discharge into natural waters. The study was published in Nature Sustainability.


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