Field observations of stratification in stormwater wet ponds

Sherif S. Ahmed, Mark R. Loewen, Wenming Zhang, Tadros R. Ghobrial, David Z. Zhu, Khizar Mahmood, Bert van Duin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Stratification is one of the fundamental physical processes that may have a significant impact on water quality in stormwater wet ponds. However, the role of thermal and chemical stratifications in governing water quality processes is not fully understood. This is in part due to the lack of detailed field measurements of sufficient governing parameters over time periods that span a wide range of environmental conditions. To fill this gap, a comprehensive 2-year field program was undertaken in two stormwater wet ponds in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, during the ice-free season from May to November in 2018 and 2019. At different locations in each pond, thermal and chemical stratifications were observed, thermocline depth and strength were determined, and continuous water velocity profiles were measured. In addition, the effect of local weather conditions on stratification, thermocline, and hydrodynamics was investigated. The results showed that the ponds had vertical water temperature differences >1 °C for 99% of the time, May to August. In addition, salt-laden inflows from road deicing salts led to strong chemical stratification up to five times stronger in the sediment forebays than in the main cells in spring. Wind-induced surface currents were insignificant, scaling at 0.3% of the wind speed with negligible impact on vertical mixing in the ponds. Our results demonstrate that the ponds' strong and prolonged stratification decreased pollutant retention capacity and caused the water at depth to become anoxic, degrading the quality of the water discharged downstream. Hence, additional consideration of stratification is required when designing new stormwater ponds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115988
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Field observation
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Stormwater pond
  • Stratification
  • Thermocline


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