Dynamic release of solutes from roof bitumen sheets used for rainwater harvesting

Uri Nachshon, Meni Ben-Hur, Daniel Kurtzman, Roee Katzir, Lior Netzer, Guy Gusser, Yakov Livshitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Bitumen waterproof sheets are widely used to seal building roofs. Previous works have focused on the mechanical-physical properties of bitumen sheets, as well as their aging and degradation processes, and their impact on sealing properties of the buildings. Due to a growing need over recent years to use rooftops in urban environments for rainwater harvesting purposes, it is highly important to better characterize the quality of the harvested water from the bitumen covered roofs, and to shed more light on the impact of bitumen degradation processes on the release of various components to the harvested roof water. In the present study, the extracted organic and inorganic solutes from bitumen-covered roofs by water flow on the bitumen sheets were examined through a series of experiments, including measurements from the roofs of buildings in the center of Israel during the winter of 2019–2020. The results indicated high levels of organic and inorganic solute loads in the roof water during the first flush of the first rain of the winter, with maximal electric conductivity readings at the order of 4 dS/m. However, it was shown that following the first flush, a ~20 mm of cumulative rainfall was sufficient to wash off all the summers’ accumulated solutes from the roof. After this solute flushing of the roof, harvested rainwater along the winter was of good quality, with electric conductivity readings in the range of 0.04–0.85 dS/m. Moreover, it was shown that bitumen sheets which were exposed to direct sun radiation emitted greater loads of solutes, likely a result of elevated aging and degradation processes. The findings of the present research point to the need to find efficient ways to isolate roof bitumen sheets from direct sun radiation and to design rainwater harvesting systems that will not collect the water drained from the first flush.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3496
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number24
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Bitumen sheets
  • First flush
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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