Identifying Sources of Contaminants in Urban Stormwater and Evaluation of Their Removal Efficacy Across a Continuum of Urban Best Management Practices

Urban stormwater is a substantial source of trace organic contaminants to aquatic ecosystems. However, sources of
these contaminants to urban stormwater are poorly understood as is the efficacy of treatment technologies. We
propose to use molecular techniques (eDNA) to identify sources of trace organic contaminants (Activity 1), a
necessary first step in source reduction. By identifying human, canine and ungulate-associated fecal bacteria in
stormwater, we will determine whether trace organic contaminants originated from leaking sewer pipes, pet waste,
or urban ungulate populations. In addition, we propose to assess contaminant removal efficacy across a continuum
of stormwater treatment technologies (Activity 2) to provide actionable information to resource managers.
Specifically, we plan to sample inflow, outflow, and shallow groundwater associated with traditional stormwater
ponds, iron-enhanced sand filtration ponds and underground infiltration BMPs. Our education specialist will use data
derived from the proposed study to (i) develop K-12 curriculum to match existing MN Academic Standards; and (ii)
create web content for continued education. Information will also be incorporated into the Mississippi Watershed
Management Organization’s (MWMO) K-12 programming. Water resource managers will be informed through our
continued participation in the MN Contaminants Roundtable and collaboration with MWMO who has direct access to
City Public Works staff. Educational and outreach activities will promote environmentally responsible behaviors to
reduce the contribution of trace organic contaminants to urban stormwater. The proposed study will be value-added
through an ongoing funded study that provides most of the detailed analytical chemistry required to assess the
performance of stormwater technologies.

Final Report .pdf (2021)
2019 Midproject Presentation
Annual Project Summary - Presentation - (Aug. 2020) .pdf
Annual Project Summary - Text - (Aug. 2020) .pdf

Project Staff: 

Project Lead: Heiko Schoenfuss, PhD – Aquatic Toxicologist
Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory, St. Cloud State University,
320-308-3130 (office)

Co-Principal Investigator: Richard Kiesling, PhD - Hydrologist US Geological Survey, MN Water Sciences Center
763-783-3131 (office);
Sarah Elliott - Hydrologist, US Geological Survey, MN Water Sciences Center
Satomi Kohno, PhD – Molecular Toxicologist
Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory, WSB-273, St. Cloud State University,
Mark Minger, PhD - Science Education Specialist
Department of Biological Sciences, St. Cloud State University,

Research spotlight

Minnesota Stormwater Research Spotlight - June 2021 - Heiko Schoenfuss and Richard Kiesling.