Project Info

Innovative Green Infrastructure to Removal Phosphorus from Urban Drool

John McCray

Project Goals and Description:

Urban drool is dry-weather flow that occurs year round and that is typically highly polluted.  A pollutant of high concern in most cities around the U.S. is phosphorus, which can lead to eutrophication and even further pollution of urban streams and waterways, which are the dominant source of urban water supply.  This project focuses on developing innovative geomedia that can remove P when urban water flows through the geomedia.  Two applications are under consideration:  geomedia filters place along streets to capture storm flow and other dry weather flows and remove pollutants, and innovative, modular, removal in-stream structures that removes P (and other pollutants) as P flows through it.  Projects are already in place with the City and County of Denver and Sonoma County (CA) Water Agency (SWCA).  The project would involve laboratory work to test geomedia and analyze urban drool water quality and geomedia samples, and field work to evaluate these technologies.  The student would work closely with a PhD student, as well as Professor McCray and engineers from the City of Denver and SWCA.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Restore and improve urban infrastructure.
Herzog, S.P., Higgins, C.P., McCray, J.E., 2016. Engineered streambeds for induced hyporheic flow: Enhanced removal of nutrients, pathogens, and metals from urban streams, J. Environ. Engrng 142. Pilone, F.G., Garcia-Chevesich, P.A., McCray, J.E., 2021 Urban Drool water quality in Denver, Colorado: pollutant occurrences and sources in dry-weather flows, Water, 13, 3436. Penn, C. J., Bryant, R. B., Kleinman, P. J. A., & Allen, A. L. (2007). Removing dissolved phosphorus from drainage ditch water with phosphorus sorbing materials. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 62(4), 269–276

Primary Contacts:

John McCray.

Student Preparation


Chemistry 1, willingness to work in the field. Taking the environmental engineering laboratory or environmental engineering field session is a plus.  




Water quality sampling and analysis, hydrologic field techniques, field water quality sampling, laboratory work, report writing, research oral presentations.


Primary mentoring will be provided by a PhD student Abigail Heath, with additional mentoring with Professor McCray. Undergraduate will work closely with the PhD student regularly. Weekly meetings with Professor and PhD student, McCray research group meetings bi-weekly.


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