Vegetated Swales in Urban Stormwater Modeling and Management


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Virginia Tech


Despite the runoff reduction efficiencies recommended by various regulatory agencies, minimal research exists regarding the ability of vegetated swales to simultaneously convey and reduce runoff. This study assessed the effect water quality swales distributed among upstream sub-watersheds had on watershed hydrology. The study was also posed to determine how certain design parameters can be dimensioned to increase runoff reduction according to the following modeling scenarios: base, base check dam height, minimum check dam height, maximum check dam height, minimum infiltration rate, maximum infiltration rate, minimum Manning's n, maximum Manning's n, minimum longitudinal slope, and maximum longitudinal slope. Peak flow rate, volume, and time to peak for each scenario were compared to the watershed's existing and predevelopment conditions. With respect to the existing condition, peak flow rate and volume decreased for all scenarios, and the time to peak decreased for most scenarios; the counterintuitive nature of this result was attributed to software error. Overall, the sensitivity analysis produced results contrary to the hypotheses in most cases. The cause of this result can likely be attributed to the vegetated swale design and modeling approaches producing an over designed, under constrained, and/or over discretized stormwater management practice.



Stormwater Modeling, Low Impact Development, Vegetated Swales