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Land use changes and the properties of stormwater entering a wetland on a sandy coastal plain in Western Australia

Kobryn, Halina T.ORCID: 0000-0003-1004-7593 (2001) Land use changes and the properties of stormwater entering a wetland on a sandy coastal plain in Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study investigated the catchment of an urban wetland on sandy soils in Perth, Western Australia. The wetland is of high conservation value but is currently used as a stormwater-compensating basin. The three main aims of this work were to:
1. determine the importance of stormwater drains in the water and pollutant balance of the lake;
2. evaluate pollutant retention rates by the wetland; and
3. identify current land uses in the catchment, determine their impacts on the wetland and identify tolerable levels of urbanisation for a wetland of this type.

Stormwater flowing in and out of the lake subcatchments was monitored for two years for background flows and storm events. Water discharge, physical and chemical characteristics - including nutrients and heavy metals - were measured. Water and pollutant mass balances were determined. There was year-round flow at all sites, except from the smallest subcatchment. Flow characteristics differed between sites and were more influenced by catchment characteristics than rain intensity or duration. More water entered than left the lake in spring. In autumn more water left the lake via the overflow than entered.

Due to poor maintenance, many drains overflowed during storm events. When compared to Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) water quality guidelines for receiving waters, only pH and conductivity met the recommended criteria. The nutrient and heavy metal loads varied with rainfall during both years of study. Suspended solids, total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations were proportional to rainfall, while concentrations of dissolved forms of nutrients were not. Background flows contributed significantly to the pollutant load. More than 85% of total suspended solids, nutrients and heavy metals were retained by the wetland - the only exceptions being copper and some forms of dissolved nutrients. An evaluation of the performance of the lake as a pollutant sink, using published data from constructed wetlands, identified phosphorus as the pollutant that requires the largest area for treatment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Supervisor(s): McComb, Arthur
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