Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Earth & Environmental Sciences


Zhongqi Cheng

Subject Categories

Environmental Engineering | Environmental Sciences | Water Resource Management


combined sewage overflow, gowanus, new york city, stormwater, superfund, water quality


Public participation plays an important role in wet weather pollution management. However, the effects of participation programs on local water quality are often difficult to quantify. This project aims to quantify the potential effects of a community based, non-structural, BMP aimed at controlling inputs to combined sewage systems by encouraging residents to reduce their water use during rain events. A household could participate by reducing the amount of water they use for flushing toilets, washing dishes, taking showers, etc. during rain events; thereby reducing stress on the system during the time of highest demand. The Gowanus Canal sewershed in Brooklyn, NYC was used as a case study for this project. The proposed management practice was tested using (1) sewershed modeling to assess technical feasibility, and (2) a quantitative community survey to gauge local interest. Modeling results showed that while projected reductions in flow volume were quite low, reductions in pollutant loads were promising. Modeled pollutant load reductions, specifically those for Fecal Coliform and Nutrients were favorable compared to those typically achieved using green infrastructure approaches. Survey results indicated positive interest in participating in the water conservation program. Results regarding public understanding suggest that educational efforts aimed at increasing sewershed awareness and specific training regarding the effects various types of water use have on water quality would be beneficial to the success of such a program. Overall, results indicate that with further evaluation, the practice of conserving water during storm events may serve as a community-based complement to engineered pollution controls in urban regions.