2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Identifying Relevant Studies
2.2. Study Selection
2.3. Data Extraction
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Study Characteristics
3.2. Bioretention System Characteristics
3.2.1. Bioretention System Location
3.2.2. Terminology and Definitions
3.2.3. Physical Characteristics
3.2.4. Bioretention Modelling
|Model Name||Model Type (# of Model Instances)||Distribution||Example References||Model Applicability||Observed Modeled Processes|
|Storm Water Management Model (SWMM)||Hydrology (29) and Contaminant Transport and Fate (2, modified versions)||Freely available and open-source ||[74,75,76]||Model used in the evaluation of stormwater runoff systems. LID module can be used to represent a variety of technologies for reducing runoff, including bioretention.||Hydrology: drainage, infiltration, evapotranspiration, overflow, exfiltration, interception, submerged zone flow.|
Contaminant Transport: filtration, sedimentation, diffusion, degradation.
|RECARGA||Hydrology (8)||Freely available ||[78,79,80]||Model for evaluating the hydrologic performance of bioretention facilities, rain gardens and infiltration basins. Allows for up to 3 soil layers||Hydrology: drainage, infiltration, evapotranspiration, overflow, exfiltration.|
|HYDRUS||Hydrology (5) and Contaminant Transport and Fate (1)||HYDRUS-1D is freely available , HYDRUS 2D/3D is paid software ||[58,83,84]||Models’ flow in variably-saturated porous media. Both 1D and 2D versions are available, allowing for complex modelling of subsurface processes. Can mechanistically simulate water and solute flow, with several customizable options for varying levels of complexity.||Hydrology: drainage, evapotranspiration, infiltration, overflow, sorption, groundwater mounding, soil moisture content, preferential flow, submerged zone flow.|
Contaminant Transport: 1D advection dispersion reaction equation, sorption, first-order overall “sink” term (accounting for degradation, etc.)
|Model for Urban Stormwater Improvement Conceptualisation (MUSIC)||Hydrology and Contaminant Transport and Fate (4)||MUSIC is a commercial software , a free 21 day trial is available.||[86,87,88]||A unified model for a range of LID devices to estimate compliance with relevant local stormwater discharge regulations. Stochastic modelling of pollutant removal.||Hydrology: drainage, infiltration, overflow, scour velocity.|
Contaminant Transport: bulk removal, empirical estimation.
|Hydrologic Modelling System (HEC-HMS)||Hydrology (3)||Freely available ||[90,91,92]||Event or continuous modelling of dendritic watershed systems. Can be used for LID systems by simulating soil moisture across multiple soil layers.||Overflow, infiltration, evapotranspiration, exfiltration, drainage, groundwater mounding.|
|MicroPollutants In RaingardEns (MPiRe)||Hydrology and Contaminant Transport and Fate (3)||Not publicly available, originally published by Randelovic, Zhang, Jacimovic, McCarthy and Deletic ||[72,93,94]||A continuous, mechanistic model allowing for the simulation of contaminant transport and fate in a bioretention cell. Has been used for trace organic compounds and faecal matter.||Hydrology: overflow, infiltration, exfiltration, drainage, evapotranspiration.|
Contaminant Transport: first-order degradation, kinetic and equilibrium sorption, volatilization.
|Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT)||Hydrology (3)||Freely available ||[96,97]||A multi-scale hydrological model allowing for the simulation of catchments and LID technologies in heterogeneous watersheds.||Hydrology: infiltration, evapotranspiration, drainage, overflow.|
3.2.5. Temporal Characteristics
3.3. Processes and Results
3.3.1. Hydrologic Processes and Metrics
3.3.2. Contaminant Transport and Fate, Processes and Metrics
3.3.3. Reporting of Results
3.3.4. Other Types of Key Findings
4. Conclusions and Recommendations
- Provide all original data on inlet/outlet flows or concentrations along with calculated values, such as volume reduction or removal. As many performance metrics can depend on the specific context of a bioretention cell or a study, reporting the underlying data is essential in allowing results to be generalized to other locations and applications. In addition to this, detailed information on the locations where bioretention is practiced (e.g., latitude/longitude) and the physical characteristics of studied bioretention cells, such as the year they were built, vegetation species and characteristics, and characteristics of the bioretention media and of the native soil are necessary to ensure that lessons learned in one location can be used to inform researchers in other parts of the world.
- Prioritize investigating the processes that determine bioretention performance. As a profession, we need to better understand the underlying mechanisms (biological, physical and chemical) that lead to volume reduction and water treatment. Experiments that combine modeling and field monitoring results have been successfully used to investigate different aspects of performance, allowing the complex processes to be estimated. Additionally, research methods allowing for the investigation of specific processes, such as lysimetric data for investigating the role of plants in the bioretention water balance, are critical tools in understanding the ultimate efficacy of bioretention systems. More detailed research into the role of plants would be particularly warranted, as they are a key feature of bioretention design that has been somewhat neglected by the civil-engineering dominated bioretention community of practice.
- Standardize the collection, analysis and reporting of results for stormwater management best practices, including bioretention systems. We recommend that researchers follow the reporting standards outlined in the US EPA 2009 publication of guidelines for urban stormwater BMP monitoring ), as they are the most current and up-to-date standards available. Researchers should continue to use the word “bioretention” to refer to these systems, and other terms should be phased-out or provided as secondary names. Harmonization of investigative methods will allow for the optimization of bioretention cell performance in a way that is currently difficult due to problems translating research from one system to another.
Conflicts of Interest
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|Must meet the definition of a bioretention cell, even if it is referred to by another name||A bioretention cell was defined as a site-specific water quality and water quantity control device, containing vegetation and engineered soil media, and receiving urban stormwater runoff. Stormwater systems defined as biofiltration, bioinfiltration, bioswale, were included if the description of the system matched the definition of a bioretention cell given above.||Drainage systems that were not bioretention cells. Any stormwater systems or methods that function similarly to a bioretention cell, but were not designed as such, were also not included, such as a vegetated drainage ditch in high-infiltration soils, or a clogged infiltration basin that vegetated naturally.|
|Bioretention cell must treat urban stormwater runoff||The bioretention cell(s) being studied must have received urban stormwater runoff, or an approximation of urban stormwater runoff (e.g., simulated runoff).||Any stormwater system that treated a type of water other than urban stormwater (e.g., wastewater, agricultural runoff).|
|Independently assesses bioretention||Only studies that assessed a bioretention cell independently.|
Assessment primarily concerned hydrologic and/or contaminant transport and fate.
|Studies that evaluated a bioretention cell in combination with other systems, and where the effect of the bioretention system on the measurements taken were not separated, e.g., studies where the data was collected at the river/stream/watershed level, and where the specific effect of the bioretention cell(s) could not be separated from other variables such as land-use practices.|
Studies were also excluded if the objective was to assess where to place LID/GI measures and did not include any performance data of bioretention.
|Type of study||Studies that evaluated bioretention cells in the field or through a conceptual model. A field study was defined as a study where the bioretention cell(s) being studied was (were) built into the ground in an outdoor setting. Conceptual models incorporated an element of computer simulation in the study.||Studies that evaluated bioretention cells in highly controlled environments, such as a lab or a mesocosm.|
“Case studies” or any type of article that did not provide metrics or criteria for evaluating bioretention cells.
|Types of publication||Only peer-reviewed journal articles that generated original research findings.||Conference proceedings, theses, review articles.|
|Language||Only articles published in English.||Articles written in all other languages than English.|
|Accessibility of full-text publications||Publications required full text articles.||Articles that could not be accessed using institutional access or direct correspondence with authors or abstracts without full-text articles.|
|Characteristic||Description||Range||Average||% of Characteristic Not Reported|
|Media depth||Engineered soil media, primary element determining hydrologic function||0.14–3.2 m||0.8 m||50 (292/602)|
|Media description||Type and composition of engineered soil media||Sand, sandy, loam, gravel, organic||Sand and Sandy were most commonly used||N/A|
|Sand composition||% of sand in engineered soil media||>60%||80–90%||63 (361/602)|
|Amendments used in media||Novel addition to media which enhances hydrologic or chemical characteristics||N/A||N/A||55 (330/602)|
|Organic matter||Organic compost or mulch added to the top of the media||N/A||N/A||44 (265/602)|
|Ponding depth||Depth available above media for temporary water storage||0–0.52 m||0.15 m||67 (392/602)|
|Presence of underdrain||A perforated pipe to convey water to an outfall when the rate of inflow exceeds the subsoil exfiltration rate||N/A||N/A||36 (214/602)|
|Presence of submerged zone||Hydraulic controls used within the media to create a permanently saturated zone||N/A||N/A||57 (341/602)|
|Presence of liner||Impermeable liner to separate bioretention from the subsoils||N/A||N/A||55 (331/602)|
|Description of vegetation||The presence of and description of vegetation contained in the bioretention cell||Not described for 44% (236/530); vague description (e.g., “native”, “shrubs”, “grasses”) for 13% (69/530); 43% (226/530) used proper taxonomic names||9 (56/602)|
|Design manual used||Whether the author specified if the design of the bioretention cell was based on a particular manual of guideline||N/A||N/A||67 (383/602)|
|Performance Metric||Description||Formula/Data Requirements||Limitations||% of Total Metrics|
|Volume Reduction (VR)||Reduction in effluent volume between the inlet and the outlet, typically for the course of a storm event or 24-h period, or monthly or annually. Used as a regulatory metric in some jurisdictions.||Does not discriminate between removal pathways. In some cases the time period for reduction or the reduction metric is not clearly defined.||35 (129/372)|
|Peak Flow reduction (Rp)||Reduction in peak flow caused by the bioretention cell, typically over the course of a storm event. Used as a regulatory metric in some jurisdictions.||Does not give information on total volumes. Over time it has been realized that many of the adverse outcomes from high peak flows are more associated with the total volume than the flow , so this metric is generally being phased-out in favour of volume-based metrics in a regulatory context [2,42,47,124].||16 (60/372)|
|Flow Rate (Q, m³)||Flow rate of the system. Often reported in comparison to a threshold flow rate determined by regulators.||Requires flow rate monitoring in at least one point in bioretention cell.||Non-normalized value, and therefore difficult to compare across sites.||16 (58/372)|
|Hydraulic Conductivity (k, m s-1)||Hydraulic conductivity of soil. Often given as the saturated conductivity (ksat). Design manuals will frequently have the acceptable ksat of the engineering media specified.||Varies based on monitoring equipment and methodology, but generally follows Darcy’s Law||Highly variable spatially and temporally, so not always comparable between cells or in different places in the same cell. Hydraulic conductivity of the native soil is important for determining overall efficacy along with the conductivity of the cell.||7 (26/372)|
|Lag Time (TL)||Change in the time of flow caused by the bioretention cell or other LID system.||Inconsistent calculation or usage. The lag time may measure the delay in the timing of the peak flow between the inlet (tqp,in) and the outlet (tqp,out) or may measure the time between the start of inflow (t1,in) and the start of outflow (t1,out).||6 (23/372)|
|Drain-down Time (TD, hr)||Time it takes for the ponding zone in a bioretention cell to drain. Typically, a required maximum value is included in design manuals, to prevent leaving stagnant water.||Requires water level and/or the effluent flow rate to be monitored||Inconsistently utilized by researchers. Often a threshold maximum value is given in a design manual, so attention is only paid if the drain-down time exceeds that threshold.||3 (12/372)|
|Hydraulic Retention Time (τH)||Amount of time water spends in the system. Frequently calculated at steady-state so the time period needs to be specified.||The τH will change over the course of a storm event, so this metric may give erroneous results or be difficult to compare when different normalization times are used.||3 (11/372)|
|Performance Metric||Description||Formula/Data Requirements||Limitations||% of Total Metrics|
|Concentration of the contaminant of interest in the effluent from the bioretention cell. We have also included general water quality parameters, such as temperature, in this category where they are measured at the effluent.Concentrations can also be expressed as the Event Mean Concentration (EMC), which is a flow-weighted concentration metric.||Requires measurement of concentration at the effluent of the cell. Different techniques are used depending on the contaminant of interest.||Not always clear whether the “effluent” is only underdrain flow, or if it includes other pathways such as infiltration or overflow. Effluent concentration is often a function of influent concentration, so it can be hard to generalize results when only this is reported.||44 (701/1580)|
|Removal by concentration or Efficiency Ratio|
|Bulk reduction in contaminant concentration between the influent and the effluent.||As with the effluent concentration, it is not always clear what pathways are considered in the effluent concentration (Cout). Additionally, the contaminant may be accumulated in the bioretention cell and released later or redirected towards groundwater. Concentrations also change across a hydrograph, so removal by concentration may not give a relevant result; if EMC are used this is less important.||25 (393/1580)|
|Removal by mass or Summation of Loads(RM)||Bulk reduction in contaminant concentration between the influent and the effluent.||It is not always clear what pathways are considered in removal, and whether this represents accumulation in the system, removal by hydraulic processes (such as infiltration), transformation or mineralization.||21 (328/1580)|
|Mass Loading||Integral of the total mass entering or leaving the bioretention cell. Similar to the EMC but expressed as a mass rather than a concentration.||Shows mass loadings, but not removal quantities or processes. Typically used to support mass removal calculations.||6 (88/1580)|
|Threshold exceedance||A measure of when a metric is larger than the regulated or target value, typically on release from the system. Typically but not exclusively expressed on a concentration basis. Can also be used for hydrologic parameters.||When expressed on a concentration basis, the overall mass loading from the system can still be high even if the concentration remains low.||3 (42/1580)|
|Soil distribution coefficient (Kd, L kg−1)||Measure of equilibrium partitioning between a contaminant and soil. Used to investigate accumulation and transport through porous media.||Can be expressed using different isotherms depending on sorption dynamics. Desorption can follow a different isotherm.||1 (16/1580)|
|Accumulation||Measure of accumulation of a contaminant in soil, typically using soil concentrations taken in the cell.||Measured using soil concentration, sometimes taken over time or after a lengthy operation of the system.||Need to understand flows as well as accumulation to understand contaminant dynamics.||0.4 (6/1580)|
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