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Designing sewers to control sediment problems

John Ackers*, David Buffer*, Daniel Leggett: and Richard May +

* Chief HydraulicsEngineer,Binnie Black & Veatch, 69 LondonRoad, Redhill,Surrey RHI I LQ, UK,
Tel +44 (0)1737 774155, Fax +44 (0)1737 772767, ackersj(,
* Reader in Water Engineering Urban Water ResearchGroup, Departmentof Civil & Environmental
Engineering,ImperialCollegeof Science,Technology& Medicine,ImperialCollege Road, London
SW7 2BU, UK, Tel +44 (0)20 7594 6099, Fax +44 (0)20 7594 6124,,
Head of Water Group, CIRIA, 1-2 Castle Lane, Westminster,London SWI E 6DR, UK,
Tel +44 (0)20 7828 4441, Fax +44 (0)20 7828 4055, daniel.leeeett(gciria.o~.uL
Principal Engineer, Water Management Department. HR WaUingford, Oxfordshire
OX10 8BA, UK. Tel +44 (O)1491 835381, Fax +44 (O)1491 825016.

The need for sewers to carry sediment has been recognised for many years. Traditionally a
minimum 'self-cleansing' velocity was specified in the UK and, although this approach had
been successful in many cases, it was appreciated that a minimum velocity - unrelated to the
characteristics and concentration o f the sediment or to other aspects o f the hydraulic
behaviour of the sewer - could not properly represent the ability of sewer flows to transport
sediments. In particular, it was already known that a higher flow velocity would needed to
transport a greater concentration of sediment, or to transport a given concentration of
sediment in a large sewer than in a small sewer.
During the 1980s, sediment transport theory had been increasingly applied to the design o f
sewers, particularly in major interceptor sewer schemes. But, in the absence o f any univer-
sally recognised guidance, the design methodologies and criteria adopted were developed on a
project-by-project basis, building on the designers' increasing experience and understanding
o f the subject.
In recognition o f this, a research project was initiated by CIRIA (Construction Industry
Research and Information Association) in 1992, to develop a new design methodology for
sewers, which would take advantage o f the available knowledge on sediment mobility and the
effects o f sediment deposition on the hydraulic performance of sewers. The project
culminated with the issue o f CIRIA Report 141 (Ackers, Buffer and May, 1996). This paper
describes the main findings o f the project and summarises the design guidance contained in
the report.

Sewer sediments
Sewer sediments may be defined as any settleableparticulatematerialfound in surfacewater
or foul sewage, which is able to form bed deposits in the sewerage system. For the purposes
of studying sediment transport characteristics and the effects of sediment on hydraulic per-
formance, sewer sediments can be considered to fail into three distinct classes: sanitary solids,
stormwater solids and grit. Typical sewer sediment characteristics applicable to the UK are
given in Table 1.


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Table l Typieal V g sc,w ~ sedimem characteristi~ and appIlatbility

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Normal Typesuf sewer Sedimentload

Sediment class P~or
tr~aspon mode applicable Low Medium Hisa
X(m~) I00 350 500
Sanitary solids Foul
Suspension Combined d~ O~m) lO 40 60
SG I.OI 1.4 1.6
Foul x(m~) 50 350 I000
solids Suspension Surfacewater ds0(pro) 20 6O lO0
Combined SG l.l 2.0 2.5
x(m~) l0 50 200
Grit Bedload Surfacewater 300 750 750
Combined a,o Otto)
sG 2.3 2,6 2.6

The presence o f sediment in sewer flows has a number of effects. In the case o f a sewer
without deposits, the discharge capacity at a fixed hydraulic gradient is reduced by up to 1%,
due to a small increase in energy loss associated with the movement o f sediment along the
sewer invert. In sewers with deposits, the effects are much larger, due to the combination of
the loss of cross-sectioual area o f flow and the increase in roughness due to the texture o f the
bed. For sediment depths up to 5% o f the pipe diameter, the loss of flow area causes a
reduction in discharge capacity of up to 3%, whilst the extra roughness o f the deposited bed
can cause about 20~ loss in discharge capacity.

Sediment transport
Two alternative approaches may be c~nsidered in designing a sewer to be capable o f trans-
porting specific concentrations o f sediment:
9 to require that there is no deposited material on the pipe invert under design flow
conditions (the 'limit-of-deposition' condition); or
9 to allow a certain controlled amount of deposition.
The latter criterion is a practicable alternative, because the presence o f the deposited bed can
significantly raise the sediment transporting capacity o f the flow in the sewer and hence lead
to a more economical design, despite the adverse effect o f the deposits on the hydraulic
As part o f the CIRIA research project, seven limit-of-deposition equations were transformed
into a common format and compared with a number o f independent sets o f laboratory data.
For bedload transport, no single equation gave particularly satisfactory results and, as a result,
all the available data were reanalysed in order to produce a new equation with better overall
performance. Macke's equation (1982) was found to provide a reasonable fit for suspended
particles moving at the limit o f deposition.
Seven deposited-bed equations were similarly compared with laboratory data and, in general,
were found to provide a better level of agreement than the limit-of-deposition equations. For
bedload transport over a deposited bed a new equation was developed, whilst the Ackers-
White approach (Ackers, 1984 and 1991) was recommended for predicting suspended
sediment transport over a deposited bed.
A detailed appraisal o f the application o f tbese equations to a number o f typical sewer design
situations was carried out, based on three sediment movement criteria:

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I transporting a minimum concentration of fine-grain particles in suspension;

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II transporting coarser granular material as bedload; and

III eroding cohesive particles from a deposited bed.
It was found that the criterion which governs a particular design case depends on the sewer
type, the pipe size, the sediment characteristics and the concentrations required to he
For suspended s e d i ~ . , t transport (Criterion I), the Macke equation generally produced a
more conservative de~[ignthan the Ackers-White approach with a 1% bed (except for small
pipes with high sediment loads), and hence is recommended for use as the normal design
In the case of bedioad sediment transport (Criterion II), investigations using the new equat-
ions indicated that, with the exception of steep systems, the limit-of-deposition criterion is
generally too severe to he practical for pipes larger than about 500ram, but that allowing a
small amount of deposition produces significant reductions in minimum flow velocity and
pipe gradient. It is proposed that a 2% average depth of sediment be permitted in those design
cases where occasional cleaning would be practicable, if required. A more conservative bed
depth criterion of 1% is recommended for sewers which present particular access problems.
For cohesive sediment erosion (Criterion liD, various relationships between pipe diameter and
minimum full-bore velocity were identified, depending on the chosen bed shear stress and
bed roughness. For design, it is recommended that a minimum bed shear stress criterion of
2 N/m 2 be used, calculated assuming a minimum bed roughness of ks = 1.2ram for lmm
cohesive sediment particles.
Given the complexity of the equations recommended and the multiplicity of variables introd-
uced, the influence and importance o f any one variable is not immediately apparent. Detailed
numerical tests were carried out under a number o f design conditions to highlight the critical
parameters. In the case of snspended sediment in larger sewers, sediment concentration,
particle size and specific gravity were all found to influence the required minimum velocity
and gradient. However, none o f the parameters was found to have a particularly dominant
effect. For example, a doubling in sediment concentration would increase the required
velocity by approximately 15%. Small sewers are normally governed by Criterion III, and in
this case none of the sediment parameters has a significant influence.
In the case ofhedload movement at the limit of deposition (normally a feasible option only in
a small sewer), the most significant variable was found to be the expected sediment concen-
tration. For bedload transport over a deposited bed (in a large sewer), sediment concentration
again had the most significant influence, with a doubling in concentration from 50 to 100 mg/l
requiring more than a 20~ increase in velocity. It was also shown that, for a given sediment
concentration, a substantial increase in sediment bed depth (from 2% to 10%) allows a 20%
reduction in velocity. For both forms ofbedload movement, particle diameter was found to
be less important.
For all types of sewer operating under gravity, it was found that the sediment transporting
capacity of part-full sewer flows, expressed as a concentration, is greater than the transporting
capacity o f the same sewer flowing jnst full, provided that the discharge is greater than about
one third o f the fuU-bore discharge. This means that sewers designed to experience a range of

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flow depths in normal service can reasonably be designed using sediment mobility criteria
based on full-bore conditions.
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Design procedure
The design procedure can be considered as comprising two mutually dependent parts:
9 the first concerned with the hydraulic conditions necessary to achieve the required degree
of sediment mobility;, and
9 the second concerned with the effects of the sediment on the hydraulic performance.
As an example of the mutual dependence, the hydraulic roughness of a deposited sediment
bed is related to the sediment particle size, whilst the sediment mobility is related to a
combination of flow velocity and roughness (or hydraulic gradient) parameters. This inter-
relationship between sediment mobility and hydraulic performance has been taken into
account in arriving at the sequence of steps in the design procedure, which is summarised in
Table 2.

Table 2 Sazps in CIRIA self-dmnslng sewer design procahffe

Design criteria
9 Gem~l decisions on the sediment mobility criteria to be adopted, covering such aspects as the ~ of ~ , ~e
allowable depth of sediment deposition and the associated flow/frequencyconditions
Sediment characteristics and loads
9 Availabilityof field data
9 Suitabilityof "standard' data
9 Likelihoodof aggravationdue to changes in catchment use, consuBction sites etc
9 Determinationof appropriate values for particle size, SG and concenUation
Hydraulic performance
Pipe wall roughness
Roughness of deposited bed (if applicable)
Composite roughness
Effect of deposited bed on flow area etc
Effect of presence of sediment on hydraulic gradient (if no deposition)
Preliminmydetermination of velocity/discharge/hydraulicgradient relationships
;uspended sediment transport (Criterion 1)
Apply Macke equatton to obtain diameter/minimumvetocity relationship for suspended sediment transport without
If limited deposition is allowed, the Ackers-White approach should be applied instead
)edload sediment traaspert (Crilerien il)
Apply new bedload equations applicableto the limit-of-depositionor limited-depositioncase as approlxiate, and obtain
diameter/minimumvelocity relationship
Check the overall shear stress: if this indicates that there will be susp(mded sediment transport in addition to bed!oad,
then the Ackers-White approach should be applied instead
:ohesive sediment erosion (Criterion II1)
Apply required erosion critr (normallya grain shear sB'essof 2 N/m2) and obtain diameter/minimumvelocity
.'ombimmtionof sediment mobility criteria
Tabular or graphical competisort of minimum velocities applicable to criteria I to Ill, to determine their relative
importance over the relevant range of sewer"diameters
Comparison with traditional minimum velocity criteria (if required)
])esign tables
,. Productionof dimmeCerlveloci_tyldischarge/gradienttables

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CIRIA Report 141 (Ackers, Butler and May, 1996) contains a detailed procedure following
the sequence outlined in Table 2 and also a simplified procedure, in which selected 'standard'
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values of sediment characteristics and other parameters have been adopted, allowing the
presentation of ten simplified design tables. These cover foul, surface water and combined
sewers, 'medium' and 'high' sediment loads (Table 1), and criteria based on no deposition
and on an allowable average deposition of up to 2% of the pipe diameter. An example of
these design tables, covering surface water sewers with high sediment loading and an
allowable sediment deposition depth of 2%, is included as Table 3. Figure 1 gives the
minimum design velocities taken from six of the ten design tables, covering foul and surface
water sewers.

Table 3 Design tablefor surface watersewers ~ Idgk sediment Imding and 2% ~ 4q~si~n
Sewer Minimum [k.lmsited bed Composite Discharge Minimum
diameter Governing
velocity d~th roughness capacity gradient
D(ram) v,, (m/s) y,/O ('/.) /~ (ram) ~(Vs) i. (I/xxx)
150 0.67 |11 I 1.8 12 161
225 0.72 III 1 1.9 29 235
3OO 0.75 111 I 1.9 53 313
45O 0.79 Will 2 3.0 125 423
60O 0.90 II 2 3.1 253 467
75O 1.06 II 2 3.2 466 445
9O0 1.22 I1 2 3.4 774 421
I000 1.35 II 2 3.4 1060 393
1200 1.59 11 2 3.5 1790 355
1500 1.82 II 2 3.7 3200 356
1800 2.03 11 2 3.8 5140 358

2.5 84

~_. '_0_
n . i i' i


/r i
J !
2000 3O0O
s,w~r alam,t~ (ram)

Figure I Minimum design velocities by simplified CIRIA procedure

Key to co#esin Figute l
Sewertyl~ S~lkaar~t loads OelaO#A~m
F Foul M Medium LOD Limit of depo61~on
S Surface water H High 2% ~ deposltl~ deplh

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The design guidance and associatedprocedures contained in CIRIA Report 141 and
summarised hem provides the designer with the abilityto:
9 designsewers which will operate without sediment problems under wide-ranging
9 obtainmote reliableor economic design solutions for:
9 largesewers, which may currentlybe under-designed and require frequent
maintenance to remove sediment deposits;and
9 smallsewers, which may currentlybe laidat steepergradients than are necessary;,
9 assess the sediment transporting capacity o f existing sewers; and
9 consider the viability and effectiveness o f sediment management options.

ACKERS, J.C., BUTLER, D. and MAY, R.W.P. (1996)
Design of sewers to control sediment problems
CIRIA (London), Report 141
ACKERS, P. (1984)
Sediment transport in sewers and the design implications
Proceedings of the International Conference on Planning, Construction, Maintenance and Operation of Sewerage
Systems, Readin~ UK
BHRA (Cranfield)
ACKERS, P 0991)
Sediment aspects o f drainage and ou~all design
Proceedings ofth~ International Symposium on Environmental Hydraulics, i-longKong
Balkema (Rotterdam)
MACKE, E. (1982)
About sedimentation at low concentrations in par@ filled pipes
Mitteihmgen, Leichtweiss- Institnt fftr Wasserbau der Technischen Universitit Braumchweig, Heft 76, !-I 51

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