The Stormwater Blog 

Contech Stormwater experts discuss designing stormwater BMP’s, regulations, maintenance issues, and all things stormwater.


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What About Plants?
One could argue that plants are the most essential part of biofiltration systems such as bioretention, high performance biofilters, and rain gardens.&...
What Tools Are in Your Stormwater Toolbox?
Over the last 20 years of site-civil design, it has been interesting to see stormwater trends come and go.  Some design methodologies have disappeared, only to return later or in a nearby geography as the “new” approach.  Agency directives can shift based on new leadership or the prevalent regional concerns at the time.  As the construction industry finds less expensive solutions or improved constructability, they can also lead a shift in regional site design.  Things change—and from many angles.
Rain Gardens Not Permitted?

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.

Guidance for Ensuring Bioretention Media Performance Success Part 2: Specifications, QA/QC and Certification
As mentioned in Part One of this blog post series, a successful bioretention media installation must have a framework in place as guidance for managing media from inception to installation. The framework should not only include Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or how to source, qualify, verify, produce, store, and handle media, but also include media specifications to ensure recipe consistency.
Categories: Bioretention
Guidance for Ensuring Bioretention Media Performance Success Part 1: Standards of Practice
Engineered media is the heart of bioretention system performance. Therefore, preserving media integrity is of the utmost importance. A successful bioretention installation involves oversight not just onsite, but having a framework in place for transferring raw materials to a blended, commercially installed product. 
Categories: Bioretention
Bioretention Part Three: Lessons Being  Learned – Siting Issues and Inlet Design

Not done with siting issues yet, maybe this becomes five parts? One issue on siting and design is the hydraulic grade lines. Recall from your road drainage days the equations that were used to space catch pits and throat openings? The equations allowed for you to estimate gutter efficiency and top width for specified design storms. Well, these equations still apply, and I am thinking maybe even more considerations for very low flows.

Bioretention Part Two: Lessons Being Learned - Design Considerations

As a volume based stormwater control measure, bioretention systems are providing beneficial use in that they reduce runoff volumes and peak flows. In areas where combined sewers are an issue bioretention can reduce CSO frequency while increasing evapotranspiration and helping with groundwater recharge via infiltration processes. Common design criteria include storage volume and a design infiltration rate of the media and the underlying native soils. These criteria are tied to the site characteristics and statistical hydrology, for example, design the storage volume such that 95% of the mean annual runoff volume is retained. In addition to these sizing criteria we also need to design with these other factors in mind.

Bioretention Part One: Lessons Being Learned

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. 


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