IWA Publishing

An event-based hydrologic simulation model for bioretention systems


Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Bioretention systems are designed to treat stormwater and provide attenuated drainage between storms. Bioretention has shown great potential at reducing the volume and improving the quality of stormwater. This study introduces the bioretention hydrologic model (BHM), a one-dimensional model that simulates the hydrologic response of a bioretention system over the duration of a storm event. BHM is based on the RECARGA model, but has been adapted for improved accuracy and integration of pollutant transport models. BHM contains four completely-mixed layers and accounts for evapotranspiration, overflow, exfiltration to native soils and underdrain discharge. Model results were evaluated against field data collected over 10 storm events. Simulated flows were particularly sensitive to antecedent water content and drainage parameters of bioretention soils, which were calibrated through an optimisation algorithm. Temporal disparity was observed between simulated and measured flows, which was attributed to preferential flow paths formed within the soil matrix of the field system. Modelling results suggest that soil water storage is the most important short-term hydrologic process in bioretention, with exfiltration having the potential to be significant in native soils with sufficient permeability.

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