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Research Reports

Effects of Seattle Area Highway Stormwater Runoff on Aquatic Biota


The impacts of stormwater runoff from Washington State freeways on aquatic ecosystems were investigated through a series of bioassays utilizing algae, zooplankton and fish. Algae and zooplankton were adversely affected by the soluble fraction of the runoff, while suspended solids caused high mortalities of rainbow trout fry. In addition, BOD5 values similar to those reported in the stormwater literature were measured; however, there were indications that results were influenced by toxicity to microbial populations.


  • Date Published: January, 1982
  • Publication Number: WA-RD 39.11
  • Last Modified: August 4, 2007
  • Authors: Gerald J. Portele, Brian W. Mar, Richard R. Horner, Eugene B. Welch.
  • Originator: University of Washington. Environmental Engineering and Science Program.
  • # of Pages: 54 p., 1,117 KB (PDF)
  • Subject: Aquatic life, Algae, Bioassay, Biochemical oxygen demand, Biomass, Environmental impacts, Fishes, Highways, Literature reviews, Runoff, Suspended sediments, Toxicity, Water quality, Zooplankton.
  • Keywords: Highways, runoff, water pollutants, Seattle, Washington State, biomass, algae, zooplankton, fish, biochemical oxygen demand, toxicity.
  • Related Publications: Water Quality Impacts Associated with Leachates from Highway Woodwastes Embankments, (WA-RD 39.1).
    Effects of Velocity and Nutrient Alterations on Stream Primary Producers and Associated Organisms, (WA-RD 39.2).
    Highway Runoff Monitoring: The Initial Year, (WA-RD 39.3).
    Composite Sampling of Highway Runoff: Year 2, (WA-RD 39.4).
    Criteria and Requirements for Statewide Highway Runoff Monitoring Sites, (WA-RD 39.5).
    Characterization of Highway Runoff in Washington State, (WA-RD 39.6).
    Year 3 - Runoff Water Quality, August 1979 - August 1980, (WA-RD 39.7).
    Views of Risk and Highway Transportation of Hazardous Materials - A Case Study in Gasoline, (WA-RD 39.8).
    A Survey of Trace Organics in Highway Runoff in Seattle, Washington, (WA-RD 39.9).
    Transport Deposition and Control of Heavy Metals in Highway Runoff, (WA-RD 39.10).
    Highway Runoff in Washington State: Model Validation and Statistical Analysis, (WA-RD 39.12).
    Assessment of Pollutant Loadings and Concentrations in Highway Stormwater, (WA-RD 39.12.1).
    Year 4, Runoff Water Quality, August 1980-August 1981, (WA-RD 39.13).
    Guide for Water Quality Impact Assessment of Highway Operations and Maintenance, (WA-RD 39.14).
    Impacts of Channel Reconstruction in the Pilchuck River, (WA-RD 39.15).
    Summary -- Highway Runoff Water Quality Study, 1977-1982, (WA-RD 39.16).

This abstract was last modified April 29, 2008