Journal article

Depuration of highway runoff water into grass-covered embankments

The management of polluted road runoff water is an important issue in environmental protection. A strategy could be to perform local depuration by infiltration into the soils of the embankment, but knowledge for designing such systems is lacking. This study aims at discussing the relevant soil properties, by estimating the long-term. depuration of road runoff water infiltrating into the sandy soil embankment of the A9 highway in Wallis, Switzerland. This was done by estimating the heavy metals (HM) mass balance of two sites 23 and 12 years old, respectively. The accumulated HM were estimated by soil and GB analyses. The HM input was estimated by average water quality and traffic. The results were discussed using two-dimensional simulation of infiltration and a 14 months in situ monitoring of the runoff from the pavement to the embankment and at the bottom of the embankment. The soil properties were appropriate for both small particle adsorption and filtration. A good match between input and stored pollutant charges was found, and the HM profiles accorded well with infiltration simulation and monitoring results, which showed that 80-100% of the runoff water infiltrated into the embankment. Replacement of the cracked concrete gutters by an infiltration channel made of similar soil is recommended. These results oppose the Swiss guidelines for road-polluted water infiltration, as much more clayey soils are recommended. These later soils are difficult to find in Switzerland, and may allow for preferential flow through macro pores, in contrast to the studied site.


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