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Role of Sediments in Insecticide Runoff from Urban Surfaces: Analysis and Modeling


Insecticides, such as pyrethroids, have frequently been detected in runoff from urban areas, and their offsite transport can cause aquatic toxicity in urban streams and estuaries. To better understand the wash-off process of pesticide residues in urban runoff, the association of pyrethroids with sediment in runoff from residential surfaces was investigated in two watersheds located in Northern California (Sacramento County). Rainfall, flow rate, and event mean concentrations/loads of sediments and pyrethroids, collected during seasonal monitoring campaigns from 2007 to 2014, were analyzed to identify relationships among stormwater quality and rainfall characteristics, primarily using Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Pyrethroid wash-off was strongly related to sediment wash-off whenever sediment loads exceeded 10 mg; this value was conveniently selected as a threshold between dissolved and particle-bound control of off-site pyrethroid transport. A new mechanistic model for predicting pyrethroid wash-off profiles from residential surfaces at basin-scale was implemented in the Storm Water Management Model (SWMM). The accuracy of the model predictions was estimated by evaluating the root mean square error (RMSE), Nash⁻Sutcliff efficiency (NSE), and Kling⁻Gupta efficiency (KGE) for each pyrethroid detected (RMSEtot = 0.13; NSEtot = 0.28; KGEtot = 0.56). The importance of particle-bound transport revealed in this work confirms previous field investigations at a smaller scale, and it should be a key consideration when developing policies to mitigate pesticide runoff from urban areas.

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