Micropollutants throughout an integrated urban drainage model: Sensitivity and uncertainty analysis

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The paper presents the sensitivity and uncertainty analysis of an integrated urban drainage model which includes micropollutants. Specifically, a bespoke integrated model developed in previous studies has been modified in order to include the micropollutant assessment (namely, sulfamethoxazole â SMX). The model takes into account also the interactions between the three components of the system: sewer system (SS), wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and receiving water body (RWB). The analysis has been applied to an experimental catchment nearby Palermo (Italy): the Nocella catchment. Overall, five scenarios, each characterized by different uncertainty combinations of sub-systems (i.e., SS, WWTP and RWB), have been considered applying, for the sensitivity analysis, the Extended-FAST method in order to select the key factors affecting the RWB quality and to design a reliable/useful experimental campaign. Results have demonstrated that sensitivity analysis is a powerful tool for increasing operator confidence in the modelling results. The approach adopted here can be used for blocking some non-identifiable factors, thus wisely modifying the structure of the model and reducing the related uncertainty. The model factors related to the SS have been found to be the most relevant factors affecting the SMX modeling in the RWB when all model factors (scenario 1) or model factors of SS (scenarios 2 and 3) are varied. If the only factors related to the WWTP are changed (scenarios 4 and 5), the SMX concentration in the RWB is mainly influenced (till to 95% influence of the total variance for SSMX,max) by the aerobic sorption coefficient. A progressive uncertainty reduction from the upstream to downstream was found for the soluble fraction of SMX in the RWB.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-405
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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