SRS Automated Stormwater Monitoring Program

Poster Presentation

Prepared by , L. Coward, J. Yascavage

Contact Information:; 803-952-8253


The Savannah River Site (SRS) covers 310 square miles and encompasses parts of Aiken, Barnwell and Allendale Counties of South Carolina. Of its 198,344 acres, about 90 percent is pine forest and teeming swampland. As part of the environmental monitoring program, SRS monitors nonradiological liquid discharges to surface waters as mandated by the Clean Water Act. Nonradiological surface water monitoring primarily consists of sampling water discharges (industrial wastewater and industrial stormwater) associated with SRS National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitted outfalls.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) administers the NPDES permit program and is responsible for permitting, compliance tracking, monitoring, and enforcing the program. The permits SCDHEC issues to SRS provide specific requirements for sampling locations, parameters to be tested, monitoring frequency, and analytical and reporting methods. NPDES samples are collected in the field according to federal guidelines. This document lists specific methods for sample collecting, preserving, and analytical methods acceptable for the type of pollutant. The NPDES Industrial Stormwater Permit requires physical properties and concentrations of chemicals in stormwater runoff to meet specific requirements for outfalls that receive runoff from industrial activities. There are currently 37 NPDES Stormwater locations at SRS.
SRS can collect stormwater samples only during a qualifying rain event. In order to collect a sample, two conditions must be met: 1) At least 72 hours must have elapsed since the previous flow event and 2) The sample must be collected during the first 30 minutes of the initial flow. Sample challenges includes 1) worker safety since oftentimes these samples are collected during the actual storm event in rough terrain, 2) the stringent regulatory requirements for meeting sample collection criteria, 3) travel between outfalls can be miles apart, 4) immediate sample preservation requirements, and 5) short hold times (between sampling and analysis) for certain analytes.
Since rain events often occur outside of normal business hours, SRS has had to employ overtime with multiple personnel to meet all the permit requirements.
The solution included utilization of Teledyne ISCO sequential samplers with liquid level actuators, cellular modems, rain gauges for text notifications and initiating programs for sampling of the stormwater. Utilizing this technology also allowed remote sampling control of the devices from a cellphone. Each outfall was uniquely programmed, setup, and tested based on watershed flow characteristics during rain events. Additionally, each sampling unit was assembled on a mobile platform to provide ease of transport for group rotation according to the permit.
As a result of implementing these improvements, by the end of the first quarter of the second year SRS had complied with the SCDHEC permit requirements and completed benchmark sampling requirements.
The benefit of implementing both low tech and high solutions allowed SRS to meet the permit requirements early in the life of the five year permit which saves labor costs, improves worker safety and demonstrates protection of human health and the environment. The cost savings equates to a total of $1.33 million dollars in equipment, labor, and analytical costs over the duration of the five year permit.

This technology is also being considered for utilization during emergency response events for quick time-essential sampling.