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Keywords:

  • urban groundwater;
  • stormwater infiltration;
  • groundwater temperature;
  • dissolved oxygen

Abstract

Groundwater warming below cities has become a major environmental issue; but the effect of distinct local anthropogenic sources of heat on urban groundwater temperature distributions is still poorly documented. Our study addressed the local effect of stormwater infiltration on the thermal regime of urban groundwater by examining differences in water temperature beneath stormwater infiltration basins (SIB) and reference sites fed exclusively by direct infiltration of rainwater at the land surface. Stormwater infiltration dramatically increased the thermal amplitude of groundwater at event and season scales. Temperature variation at the scale of rainfall events reached 3 °C and was controlled by the interaction between runoff amount and difference in temperature between stormwater and groundwater. The annual amplitude of groundwater temperature was on average nine times higher below SIB (range: 0·9–8·6 °C) than at reference sites (range: 0–1·2 °C) and increased with catchment area of SIB. Elevated summer temperature of infiltrating stormwater (up to 21 °C) decreased oxygen solubility and stimulated microbial respiration in the soil and vadose zone, thereby lowering dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration in groundwater. The net effect of infiltration on average groundwater temperature depended upon the seasonal distribution of rainfall: groundwater below large SIB warmed up (+0·4 °C) when rainfall occurred predominantly during warm seasons. The thermal effect of stormwater infiltration strongly attenuated with increasing depth below the groundwater table indicating advective heat transport was restricted to the uppermost layers of groundwater. Moreover, excessive groundwater temperature variation at event and season scales can be attenuated by reducing the size of catchment areas drained by SIB and by promoting source control drainage systems. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.