Oxygen and ammonia concentration are key parameters of acute water pollution in urban rivers. These two abiotic parameters are statistically assessed for a historical rain series by means of a simplified deterministic model of the integrated drainage system. Continuous simulation of the system performance indicates that acute water pollution is caused by intermittent discharges from both sewer system and wastewater treatment plant. Neglecting one of them in the evaluation of the environmental impact gives a wrong impression of total system behavior. Detention basins and alternative operational modes in the treatment plant under wet weather loading have a limited positive effect for minimizing acute water pollution. (C) 1997 IAWQ. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.