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Variability in adsorptive phosphorus removal by structural stormwater best management practices
Rosenquist, Shawn E.
Hession, W. Cully
Eick, Matthew J.
Vaughan, David H.
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Various best management practices (BMPs) utilizing sorption processes (SP) have demonstrated effectiveness for phosphorus (P) management in stormwater. However, the widespread use of these BMPs in urban areas has been limited by large land requirements and limited P removal capacity. Central to this study is the development of the urban wetland filter (UWF), a concept intended to overcome these limitations and provide a low-cost, easily implemented BMP that can meet urban P-management goals. Performance variation along with finite sorption capacity has limited the reliability of SP as a primary removal strategy. However, if variability were better understood and capacity made renewable, sorption of P to substrates could provide the option of a more rapid and (with less required retention time) more space-efficient sustainable removal strategy than biological uptake. The goal of this study was to identify and model major sources of variability in P removal by sorption, enabling better prediction and optimization of sorption performance and ultimately the development of a small-footprint stormwater BMP with efficient P removal ability. Experiments were conducted in bench-scale reactors with an iron-oxide sand substrate. Results included a physical-process model developed by considering the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of SP. Significant sources of variability included, by order of importance, magnitude of a solution/substrate concentration gradient, length of the “antecedent dry period” between loadings, and pH. Most importantly, results indicate the critical importance of a thermodynamic gradient between solution P and previously adsorbed P to achieve continued removal.