Current stormwater design guidance typically recommends starting with preservation of the natural landscape and hydrology wherever feasible. But, even with preservation, new stormwater management facilities are likely to be required to capture and clean runoff from pollution generating surfaces. These new stormwater facilities are likely to include imported soil or soil amendments that add permeability and/or optimize soil structure for vegetative growth. For many years, the industry has characterized media in vegetated facilities generically as soil, sand, compost, etc.
As bioretention becomes more popular, many types of designs are being deployed throughout the U.S. Though relatively simple in concept, many are finding that the devil is in the details with respect to maintenance and performance. These issues are driving newer designs and improving criteria for use. Over my next few posts, I will be sharing some of the experiences and lessons learned with bioretention design.
Bioretention and green roofs have become the centerpieces of Low Impact Development (LID) initiatives throughout North America. The well-publicized benefits of these two types of stormwater management practices focus on runoff reduction, stormwater quality treatment, and landscape aesthetics. Promotional literature provided by various regulatory agencies and environmental organizations typically highlights the processes and mechanisms within bioretention and green roofs that provide desirable outcomes. Normally, one finds mention of evapotranspiration, filtering, and adsorption characteristics of the vegetation and soil mix as beneficial mechanisms for the purposes of runoff reduction, particulate and hydrocarbon removal, and dissolved pollutant capture, respectively.
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