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Unlike stormwater practices such as bioretention and constructed ponds, direct measurement of water quality performance for street sweeping cannot be performed. Pollutant removal is a function of the amount of material removed and the chemical composition of the material removed. This simplified approach also assumes all material and pollutants on impervious surfaces would reach a receiving water. Another complicating factor is that concentrations of some pollutants, such as nutrients, varies considerably during the year, with the result that sweeping effectiveness also varies with timing. This differs from a traditional practice, such as bioretention, which treats runoff throughout the year, thus allowing calculation of annual average removal.

The following discussion summarizes general conclusions on the effectiveness of street sweeping in removing pollutants.


Hobbie et al. determined phosphorus concentrations in street sweepings from six municipalities. Results indicate significantly greater concentrations of phosphorus during fall when leaf drop occurs. Combined with the much greater mass of material generated at this time of year, targeted sweeping during fall leaf drop provides by far the most effective way of reducing phosphorus concentrations in stormwater runoff.