Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 230:262 | Cite as

Assessment of Pollution Sources, Fate of Pollutants, and Potential Instream Interventions to Mitigate Pollution of Earthen Canals of Urban to Rural-Urban Fringe

  • Pattiyage I. A. GomesEmail author
  • Bothalage A. V. W. Fernando
  • Ganegeoda K. Dehini


Three representative earthen canals from urban, peri-urban, and rural-urban fringe of Sri Lanka were studied for a 2-year period against different seasons to capture insights important in ecological rehabilitation. Only the canal from rural-urban fringe showed a better water quality in wet season; elucidating, the impact of contaminated catchment runoff in the other canals. At a given sampling session, one or two peaks (relative maxima) were observed in urban and peri-urban canals for pollution representative parameters such as nitrate nitrogen and soluble reactive phosphorus. Those peaks were highly localised, an indication of poor advection. In general, two-dimensional variations of electrical conductivity and turbidity in dry season were uniform in urban and peri-urban canals, an indication of dominant molecular diffusion. This was further evidenced via physical models for different flow stages (low, high, and bankfull). Therefore, fate of contaminants had to be mainly governed by assimilation via sediments. However, grey water footprint analyses showed urban and peri-urban canals have over utilised the natural assimilation capacity of many water quality parameters by several folds. This study proved the importance of inducing attenuation by instream physical heterogeneity similar to natural streams or naturalised canals such as the canal from the rural-urban fringe of this study.


Advection Assimilation Grey water footprint Molecular diffusion Spatiotemporal water quality variations Urban canals 


Funding Information

Authors wish to thank the National Research Council of Sri Lanka for funding this research project (Grant number NRC 17-066).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringSri Lanka Institute of Information TechnologyMalabeSri Lanka
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringCurtin UniversityBentleyAustralia

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