3 years ago

Modeling hydrological response to a fully-monitored urban bioretention cell

Ryan D. Stewart, Joong Gwang Lee, William D. Shuster, Robert A. Darner
Municipalities and agencies use green infrastructure to combat pollution and hydrological impacts (e.g., flooding) related to excess stormwater. Bioretention cells are one type of infiltration green infrastructure (GI) intervention that infiltrate and redistribute otherwise uncontrolled stormwater volume. However, the effects of these installations on the rest of the local water cycle is understudied; in particular, impacts on stormwater return flows and groundwater levels are not fully understood. In this study, full water cycle monitoring data was used to construct and calibrate a two-dimensional Richards equation model (HYDRUS-2D/3D) detailing hydrological implications of an unlined bioretention cell (Cleveland, Ohio) that accepts direct runoff from surrounding impervious surfaces. Using both pre- and post-installation data, the model was used to: 1) establish a mass balance to determine reduction in stormwater return flow, 2) evaluate GI effects on subsurface water dynamics, and 3) determine model sensitivity to measured soil properties. Comparisons of modeled versus observed data indicated that the model captured many hydrological aspects of the bioretention cell, including subsurface storage and transient groundwater mounding. Model outputs suggested that the bioretention cell reduced stormwater return flows into the local sewer collection system, though the extent of this benefit was attenuated during high inflow events that may have exhausted detention capacity. The model also demonstrated how, prior to bioretention cell installation, surface and subsurface hydrology were largely decoupled, whereas after installation, exfiltration from the bioretention cell activated a new groundwater dynamic. Still, the extent of groundwater mounding from the cell was limited in spatial extent, and did not threaten other subsurface infrastructure. Finally, the sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the overall hydrological response was regulated by the hydraulics of the bioretention cell fill material, which controlled water entry into the system, and by the water retention parameters of the native soil, which controlled connectivity between the surface and groundwater.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/hyp.11386

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