Development and Evaluation of Effective Turbidity Monitoring Methods for Construction Projects

Principal Investigator:

Bruce Wilson, Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

Co-Investigator

  • John Gulliver, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project Summary:

Various agencies have discussed the possibility of using turbidity as an effluent standard for construction sites. Turbidity monitoring can be difficult for dynamic construction sites. This project investigated turbidity relationships for conditions of Minnesota and developed protocols for the design and installation of cost-effective monitoring systems. Turbidity characteristics of fourteen different soils in Minnesota were investigated using the laboratory protocols. Trends in turbidity with sediment concentrations were well represented by power functions. The exponent of these power functions was relatively constant between soils and the log-intercept, or scaling parameter varied substantially among the different soils. A regression analysis for the scaling parameter was a function of percent silt, interrill erodibility, and maximum abstraction. A power value of 7/5 was chosen to represent all soils. The field studies were also used to develop turbidity monitoring systems that would be adaptable to construction sites and to collect turbidity data on construction site runoff. Construction site turbidities often exceeded 1000 NTUs and sometimes surpassed 3000 NTUs.

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