The movement of cohesive sediment in a large combined sewer

  • David Wotherspoon

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The presence of sediment deposits within sewerage systems may lead to operational (premature surcharging and surface flooding) and potential environmental problems (sediments act as a store of pollutants which can be released during erosion events). The consequences of allowing these problems to persist have been recognised internationally. In the U.K., the water industry has promoted fundamental and applied research to develop the necessary operational and analytical tools to manage these problems. Under the Urban Pollution Management Research Programme the major aspects of sediments in sewers have been studied and their effects included in new methodologies and tools.

    Most studies in the U.K. and elsewhere have concentrated on the movement of non - cohesive sediments, whilst it has been recognised that combined sewer sediment deposits possess cohesive characteristics (although this cohesion primarily arises from agglutination and biological processes in the combined sewer rather than classical concepts of cohesion). New computer based models, e.g Mosqito (Moys 1987) and MOUSETRAP (WRc 1993) , are based on sediment transport capacity theories with the limited availability of sediment within the system recognised through storage layers which become available only when certain threshold levels of shear stress are exceeded. Studies in the U.K. to estimate the release of pollutants
    stored within sewer sediment beds also require a knowledge of the hydraulic shear stress conditions at which the sediment beds will erode and become entrained into the flow.

    The reported study examines the apparent cohesive nature of a sediment bed in a large diameter sewer concurrently with flow hydraulics, sediment bed deposit depth and suspended solids flux for a number of dry and wet weather periods. Instrumentation was developed and assessed for hydraulic measurements within the study sewer system and in particular, a novel system was devised to improve flow measurement accuracy in large diameter sewers. Development work was also undertaken on an ultrasonic device to monitor the temporal variation in sediment deposit depth at a point. The constituent materials of the sediment bed were examined and rheological techniques were employed to assess the structural strength of the sediment bed present in the study sewer. The results confirmed the apparent cohesive nature of the sediment bed, with the structural strength of the bed far exceeding the normal hydraulic shear stress ranges encountered in the sewerage system.

    A relationship between apparent yield strength and liquid content of the sediment bed was obtained from the rheological tests. The bed structural strength was then compared with temporal changes in the flow - induced shear forces. An empirical model was developed to predict the availability for erosion of the cohesive deposits in the combined sewer studied. This model was tested against further temporally varying data sets from the sewer and was found to predict the erosion of the sediment bed under varying levels of applied shear stress together with changes in the sediment transport flux.

    It was concluded that when Dry Weather Flows induce bed shear stresses in excess of 1-2 N/m erosion of the sediment bed structure can be caused, with storm flows which induce shear stresses in excess of 4-6 N/m eroding the bed to a greater depth. The sediment bed was observed to be rapidly re-established following an erosion event.

    The investigation and model developed contribute significantly to knowledge about the behaviour of sediments in sewers and provide for the first time a model to simulate erosion of a sediment bed with apparently cohesive properties and consequent increase in sediment and pollutant transport rates.
    Date of AwardSep 1994
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsTayside Regional Council Department of Water Services & Water Research Centre Plc.

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