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The sanitary sewer unit hydrograph model: A comprehensive tool for wastewater flow modeling and inflow-infiltration simulations

by Gabriel Perez, Jesus D Gomez Velez, Stanley Grant
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Water Research
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Sanitary sewer systems are critical urban water infrastructure that protect both human and environmental health. Their design, operation, and monitoring require novel modeling techniques that capture dominant processes while allowing for computationally efficient simulations. Open water flow in sewers and rivers are intrinsically similar processes. With this in mind, we formulated a new parsimonious model inspired by the Width Function Instantaneous Unit Hydrograph (WFIUH) approach, widely used to predict rainfall-runoff relationships in watersheds, to a sanitary sewer system consisting of nearly 10,000 sewer conduits and 120,000 residential and commercial sewage connections in Northern Virginia, U.S.A. Model predictions for the three primary components of sanitary flow, including Base Wastewater Flow (BWF), Groundwater Infiltration (GWI), and Runoff Derived Infiltration and Inflow (RDII), compare favorably with the more computationally demanding industry-standard Storm Water Management Model (SWMM). This novel application of the WFIUH modeling framework should support a number of critical water quality endpoints, including (i) sewer hydrograph separation through the quantification of BWF, GWI, and RDII outflows, (ii) evaluation of the impact of new urban developments on sewage flow dynamics, (iii) monitoring and mitigation of sanitary sewer overflows, and (iv) design and interpretation of wastewater surveillance studies.