Form commonly found in stormwater:

Rock and soil fragments, dirt and debris from roads and vehicles, oil particulates.

Related constituents:

Total suspended solids (TSS) – measures the mass of particulates of varied origin suspended in a moving body of water.

Solubility in water:

The particulates causing turbidity are insoluble

Adverse human impacts:

High turbidity levels are often associated with higher levels of disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.[i] Turbidity can also make streams less aesthetically enjoyable.

Adverse impacts on the environment:

Turbidity reduces visibility and absorbs light, which can increase stream temperatures and reduce photosynthesis.[ii]
Impeding aquatic plant photosynthesis reduces the amount of food, habitat and dissolved oxygen available for other species.[iii]
The fine particles that cause turbidity may also clog and abrade fish and insect gills and tissue and interfere with egg and larval development.[iv]
Pollutants such as pesticides and PCBs adhere to the surfaces of turbidity-causing particulates and can be transported into aquatic environments in this fashion.[v]

Stormwater Treatment to Remove Turbidity


Turbidity describes the amount of optical diffraction caused by particulates suspended in water indirectly measuring the amount of particulates in the water.[vii] The particulates measured by turbidity can either solid or liquid (i.e. oil droplets).[viii]
however, the solid particulates are predominant in turbidity measurements. Turbidity is often used as a surrogate measurement for total suspended solids although no correlation between turbidity and TSS measurements can be made.[ix]

U.S. EPA recommended water quality criteria: [vi]

None. EPA recommends water quality criteria for many of the constituents that cause turbidity.

See TSS for sources of turbidity.


[i] U.S. EPA, List of Contaminants and Their MCLs, http://www.epa.gov/safewater/contaminants/index.html

[ii] Lake Superior Streams, Turbidity and TSS, http://www.lakesuperiorstreams.org/understanding/param_turbidity.html (last visited Aug. 4, 2010).

[iii] Lake Superior Streams, supra.

[iv] Lake Superior Streams, supra.

[v] Charles River Watershed Ass’n, CRWA Water Quality Monitoring Parameters, http://www.crwa.org/water_quality/monthly/parameters.html (last visited Aug. 9, 2010).

[vi] See U.S. EPA, National Recommended Water Quality Criteria, http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/wqctable/index.html#U (last visited July 30, 2010).

[vii] Standard Methods 2-8 (Eaton, Andrew D., et al. eds., 21st ed. 2005).

[viii] Galvanic Applied Sciences, Inc., Principle of measurement combined 12° / 90° scatter light http://www.monitek.de/techn/pdf_e/scatterlight.pdf (last visited Aug. 9, 2010).

[ix] Standard Methods, supra.

The StormwateRx Aquip® industrial filtration system uses an innovative enhanced sand filtration process to effectively remove soluble and insoluble aluminum and other metals as well as oils, suspended solids, organics and nutrients from industrial stormwater runoff.

The Purus™ Stormwater Polishing System (previously known as the AquiPlus) provides the most advanced level of stormwater treatment, and is designed for challenging stormwater conditions or targeted pollutant removal.

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