The influence of temperature and salt on metal and sediment removal in stormwater biofilters

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Stormwater biofilters are used to treat stormwater runoff. In countries with cold winter climates, biofilters are subject to low temperatures which, in some cases, are combined with potentially high salt concentrations from road de-icing, potentially affecting the biofilter's performance. Since stormwater biofilters have been developed without consideration of their critical winter use, a laboratory study was carried out to evaluate the performance of stormwater biofilters subjected to low and high temperatures, with and without salt. Both factors and their interaction had a significant effect on outflow concentrations and removal percentages. Salt had a negative impact on outflow concentrations, causing lower removal percentages for (especially dissolved) metals, this impact being most pronounced for Cu and Pb. The unrealistic combination of salt with high temperature seemed to further amplify the negative impacts of salt despite the fact that temperature alone did not cause significant differences in outflow concentrations and removal percentages. Still, biofilters showed the ability to treat stormwater efficiently under the simulated winter conditions; outflow concentrations for total metals as a minimum met the class 4 threshold value defined in the Swedish freshwater quality guidelines, while inflow concentrations clearly exceeded the threshold value for class 5. The relatively coarse filter material (which is recommended to facilitate infiltration during winter) did not seem to exacerbate biofilter performance.

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