Mid-America Transportation Center



John S. Stansbury

Date of this Version


Document Type



Report # MATC-UNL: 059 Final 25-1121-0003-059


Copyright 2013 Mid-America Transportation Center


Total suspended solids (TSS) are all particles in water that will not pass through a glass fiber filter with a pore size less than 2 μm, including sediments, algae, nutrients, and metals. TSS is an important water quality parameter because of its adverse effects on aquatic species and wildlife. TSS is regulated through the EPA via the NPDES in many states. Since there are no accepted field tests for TSS, projects with TSS regulations must send samples to a laboratory for analysis, which can delay projects for days or weeks. The goal of this research was to develop a rapid, cost-effective, and consistent method for direct measurement of TSS in the field. Theoretical analyses of three initial designs (centrifugation, rapid heating, and rapid filtration using vacuum pressure) showed that in order to obtain sufficient suspended material to measure in the field, too much water would be needed for each sample to be feasible for centrifugation and rapid heating. A new prototype rapid filtration system design was developed for evaluation. Testing showed this system to be inaccurate. A second system was modified for rapid filtration with no vacuum. Testing of this system also showed results were not precise enough to be a feasible field test. It was concluded that none of the described methods were currently feasible, and that the laboratory test could also have inaccuracies in measuring water samples tested to meet regulation standards.