Technical Papers

Hydrologic Performance of Bioretention Storm-Water Control Measures


The transportation and urban infrastructure relies heavily on impervious surfaces. Unmitigated rainfall runoff from impervious surfaces can lead to a myriad of environmental problems in downgradient areas. To address this issue, novel stormwater control measures (SCMs) are being emphasized and implemented widely to mitigate some of the impacts of impervious surface. Bioretention is a soil/media-based SCM that is often used for this purpose, but current design practices are highly empirical. This study compiles work from three research sites in three states to provide some fundamental underpinnings to bioretention design. Although all sites demonstrate different levels of performance, water volumetric performance trends are common to all. These trends are based on the available storage in the bioretention cell, termed herein as the Bioretention Abstraction Volume (BAV). The BAV is directly related to available media porosity and storage in the surface bowl. A finite capacity to completely store all runoff from smaller events is defined by the BAV. Normalization for this storage provides prediction for volumetric performance. Recommendations for bioretention design are provided.