Bioretention Systems. Christopher C. Obropta, Ph.D., P.E.

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1 Bioretention Systems Christopher C. Obropta, Ph.D., P.E.

2 WHAT IS A BIORETENTION SYSTEM? A bioretention system consists of a soil bed planted with suitable noninvasive (preferably native) vegetation. It is designed to capture and filter stormwater runoff before being either conveyed downstream by an underdrain system or infiltrated into the existing subsoil below the soil bed. Vegetation in the soil planting bed provides uptake of pollutants and runoff and helps maintain the pores and associated infiltration rates of the soil in the bed.

3 HOW ARE THEY DESIGNED? To capture and treat the New Jersey Water Quality Storm (1.25 of rain over two hours) but can also be designed to detain the larger storms To have a maximum water depth for the NJ Water Quality Storm of 6 to 18 To drains within 24 to 72 hours. To have a minimum of 1 above seasonal high water table with underdrain system, 2 without underdrain system To have a minimum permeability rate of 0.5 per hour To have inflow and overflow protection

4 TYPICAL CROSS-SECTION OF A BIORETENTION SYSTEM

5 WHAT ARE THE POLLUTANT REMOVAL MECHANISMS? Absorption to soil particles Removes dissolved metals and soluble phosphorus Plant uptake Removes small amounts of nutrients Microbial processes Removes organics and pathogens Exposure to sunlight and dryness Removes pathogens Infiltration of runoff Provides flood control, groundwater recharge, and nutrient removal Sedimentation and filtration Removes total suspended solids, floating debris, trash, soil bound phosphorus, some soil bound pathogens

6 HOW DO YOU SIZE A BIORETENTION SYSTEM? It is a function of volume of runoff to be captured, treated and infiltrated (or discharged through an underdrain system). For larger systems to treat entire developments, they can exceed one acre in size (over 40,000 square feet). For smaller systems to treat runoff from a rooftop or a driveway, they typically range in size from 100 to 300 square feet.

7 WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BIORETENTION SYSTEM AND A RAIN GARDEN? What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, 1600

8 LET S DO SOME MATH... How much water can we treat with a bioretention system: 90% of rainfall events are less than 1.25 New Jersey has approx. 44 of rain per year A bioretention system will capture, treat and infiltrate: 0.9 x 44 = 40 /year = 3.3 /year The system receives runoff from 40,000 square feet of pavement (approximately 1 acre) Total volume treated and recharged by the rain garden is 40,000 sq. ft. x 3.3 ft. = 132,000 cubic feet, which is approximately 1,000,000 gallons per year.

9 WHAT ABOUT POLLUTANT REMOVAL... How much phosphorus will a bioretention system remove? For a low density residential area, NJDEP tells us that 0.60 lbs/acre/year is the aerial loading rate of phosphorus. If the bioretention system is designed to capture 90% of the runoff, it is capturing 0.56 lbs/acre/year. If it does not have an underdrain system and discharges this treated runoff into the ground, the aerial loading rate is reduced from 0.60 to 0.04 lbs/acre/year. If it does have an underdrain system, literature tells us that bioretention systems remove 60% of the phosphorus. Then the aerial loading rate is reduced from 060to 022lbs/acre/year

10 WHAT ABOUT NITROGEN... Is a bioretention system equally as efficient at removing nitrogen? NO, the standard bioretention system typically only removes 30% nitrogen. This is a big problem for areas where there are already high nitrogen concentrations in the groundwater table or in areas where nitrogen is contributing to eutrophication of waterways (like the Barnegat Bay).

11 Converting Detention Basins to Rain Gardens in the Barnegat Bay Watershed Great infiltration rates but where is all the nitrogen going?

12 CAN BIORETENTION SYSTEMS BE DESIGNED TO BE RESILIENT TO CLIMATE CHANGE? Yes, the standard bioretention system typically designed to capture, treat and infiltrate the water quality storm (1.25 of rain over two hours). If you design them to capture and treat the two year storm (3.5 of rain of 24 hours), they can withstand the increases in rainfall intensity associated with climate change.

13 HERE IS AN EXAMPLE For a 10,000 square foot parking lot, a bioretention basin would need to be 1,750 square feet in size with a depth of 6 to capture, treat and infiltrate the water quality storm. If you designed a bioretention basin to capture, treat and infiltrate the two year storm (3.5 of rain over 24 hours), it would be the same size but 8½ deep instead of 6 deep. If climate changes increase the intensity of our water quality storm, this bioretention basin that was designed for a two year storm would capture, treat and infiltrate a water quality storm of 1.75 of rain over two hours; 0.5 more than our current water quality storm. Increase in cost to build a basin for the two year storm instead of the water quality storm is minimal.

14 CHANGING THE WORLD ONE DOWNSPOUT AT A TIME...

15 CHANGING THE WORLD ONE ADULT AT A TIME...

16 CHANGING THE WORLD ONE CHILD AT A TIME... Christopher C. Obropta, Ph.D., P.E.

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