Analysis of an Urban Stormwater Bioretention Management Practice in Prince William County, Virginia
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The performance of an urban stormwater bioretention management practice in the Kingsbrooke Subdivision of Prince William County, Virginia was examined over a one-year period. Bioretention is a relatively new urban stormwater best management practice (BMP) intended to mimic the pollutant-removal characteristics of an upland forest habitat. Typical bioretention areas utilize shallow ponding and highly-infiltrative sandy soils to treat the stormwater runoff from small commercial or residential drainage sites. The Kingsbrooke bioretention area was found to be atypical in several ways, including its relatively large, 14 acre, drainage area and the high clay content of its topsoil. Hydrologic and chemical data were collected by Virginia Tech staff for a total of 8 months in 2003 and 2004. Analysis of pollutant loading data was complicated by the presence of three unmeasured water flows: overland inflow bypassing the inflow gage, and groundwater flows both entering and exiting the bioretention soils. The BMP did reduce peak runoff rates for some storms, but did not significantly reduce total storm volumes because of the combined effects of the large drainage area to BMP area ratio and the poor infiltration capacity of the soil. Pollutant load calculations determined that the site removed about 28% of total suspended solids, 32% of total phosphorus, and about 15% of total nitrogen. Removals of approximately 16% and 7% were observed for lead and zinc, respectively. Although the Kingsbrooke bioretention area did improve water quality, the pollutant removal efficiencies were lower than those reported in the literature from more conventional bioretention areas.
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