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Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5182

Prepared in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Effectiveness of Catch Basins Equipped with Hoods in Retaining Gross Solids and Hydrocarbons in Highway Runoff, Southeast Expressway, Boston, Massachusetts, 2008-09

By Kirk P. Smith


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Stormwater mobilizes litter and other debris along the roadway where it is transported to the highway drainage systems. Initial treatment for stormwater runoff typically is provided by catch basins in highway settings. Modification of catch basins to include hoods that cover the catch-basin outlet is intended to enhance catch-basin performance by retaining floatable debris and various hydrophobic organic compounds that tend to float on the water surface within the sump of the catch basin.

The effectiveness of six deep-sump off-line catch basins equipped with hoods in reducing the mass of gross solids greater than 0.25 inches in diameter and concentrations of oil and grease (OG) and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) was examined along the Southeast Expressway, in Boston, Massachusetts. Two deep-sump catch basins were equipped with cast-iron hoods. Three were equipped with molded plastic hoods, known as an Eliminator, and a single catch basin was equipped with a fiberglass anti-siphoning hood, known as a Snout. Samples of gross solids greater than 0.25 inches in diameter, excluding gravel and metallic materials, were routinely collected for a 6-month period from a collection structure mounted at the end of each catch-basin outlet pipe. After about 6 months, all floatable, saturated low-density and high-density solids were removed from each catch basin. In addition to the collection of samples of gross solids, samples of sump water from five catch basins and flow-weighted composite samples of stormwater from the outlet of one catch basin were collected and analyzed for concentrations of OG and TPH.

A mass balance approach was used to assess the effectiveness of each catch basin equipped with a hood in retaining gross solids. The effectiveness of the deep-sump catch basins fitted with one of three types of hoods in retaining gross solids ranged from 27 to 52 percent. From 45 to 90 percent of the gross solids collected from the catch-basin sumps were composed of materials made of high-density plastics that did not float in water, and as a result, the effect that the catch-basin hoods had on these materials likely was marginal. The effectiveness for the deep-sump hooded catch basins, excluding the mass of high-density materials identified in the solids collected from the outlet pipe and the sump of the catch basins, ranged from 13 to 38 percent. The effectiveness for each catch basin, based solely on the material that remained floating at the end of the monitoring period, was less than 11 percent; however, these values likely underestimate the effectiveness of the hooded catch basins because much of the low-density material collected from the sumps may have been retained as floatable material before it was saturated and settled during non-storm conditions. The effectiveness of the catch basins equipped with hoods in reducing gross solids was not greatly different among the three types of hoods tested in this study.

Concentrations of OG and TPH collected from the water surface of the catch-basins varied from catch basin to catch basin and were similar to concentrations of flow-weighted composite samples collected during storms. Comparisons indicate concentrations of OG and TPH in flow-weighted composite samples collected at the outlet of a catch basin equipped with an Eliminator hood were not substantially different from concentrations of the respective constituents in flow-weighted composite samples collected during a previous study from catch basins containing cast-iron hoods in the same study area. The similarity between these flow-weighted concentrations and the concentrations of the respective constituents in a vertical profile sample collected from the catch-basin sump indicates that OG and TPH are emulsified in the sump of each catch basin during storms and circumvent the hoods.

First posted March 4, 2011

For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
Massachusetts-Rhode Island Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
10 Bearfoot Road, Northborough, MA 01532
(508) 490-5000

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Suggested citation:

Smith, K. P., 2010, Effectiveness of catch basins equipped with hoods in retaining gross solids and hydrocarbons in highway runoff, Southeast Expressway, Boston, Massachusetts, 2008–09: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5182, 23 p., at




Purpose and Scope

Study area

Site Selection


Site Preparation and Equipment Installation

Collection and Analysis of Continuous Water-Level and Rainfall Data

Collection and Analysis of Samples of Gross Solids

Collection and Analysis of Samples of Oil and Grease and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons

Effectiveness of Catch-Basin Hoods

Retaining Gross Solids

Retaining Oil and Grease and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons


References Cited

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