Developing a street sweeping credit for stormwater phosphorus source reduction

Principal Investigator(s):

Sarah Hobbie, Professor, Ecology, Evolution & Behavior


  • Lawrence Baker, Former Research Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
  • Jacques Finlay, Professor, Ecology, Evolution & Behavior

Project summary:

The quality of many urban water bodies is impaired because of phosphorus (P) loading from stormwater runoff. Trees near impervious surfaces contribute significantly to this P loading. Mounting evidence indicates that street sweeping, by removing nutrient-rich litterfall from streets, can effectively reduce inputs of pollutants to stormwater and reduce maintenance of downstream best management practices (BMPs). Yet street sweeping remains an underdeveloped BMP for P source reduction, as currently there is no easily implementable method for crediting sweeping practices that is approved by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Thus, water quality credits for street sweeping practices are typically not applied to permit conditions such as total maximum daily loads (TMDL) waste load allocations in Minnesota. Through a new UMN-MPCA-city partnership, researchers aim to improve empirical models and enable the MPCA to develop and disseminate a stormwater P crediting program for street sweeping. In partnership with three cities (Minneapolis, Roseville, and Shoreview), researchers will develop new empirical relationships among sweeper volume, wet mass of solids, dry mass of solids, and P loads removed by different street sweeper types throughout the snow-free season (spring, summer, and fall), across the range of tree canopy covers and species composition typical of Minnesota's cities. The research team will use these relationships to develop methods to calculate P load reductions from street sweeping and guidance for applying calculated load reductions as credit toward achieving water quality goals. Methods will be integrated into existing calculators and the Minnesota Stormwater Manual, and disseminated in webinars, workshops, presentations, meetings, and written material.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2019055
  • Start date: 01/2019
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy