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Bioretention Design for Xeric Climates Based on Ecological Principles

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Abstract:  Bioretention as sustainable urban stormwater management has gathered much recent attention, and implementation is expanding in mesic locations that receive more than 1,000 mm of annual precipitation. The arid southwestern United States is the fastest growing and most urbanized region in the country. Consequently, there is a need to establish design recommendations for bioretention to control stormwater from expanding urban development in this ecologically sensitive region. Therefore, we review the ecological limits and opportunities for designing bioretention in arid and semiarid regions. We incorporated USEPA Stormwater Management Model (SWMM) simulations to synthesize ecologically based design recommendations for bioretention in arid climates. From our review, an ideal bioretention garden area should be 6 to 8% of the contributing impervious drainage area (depending on region) with two layers of media, a 0.5‐m low‐nutrient topsoil layer above a 0.6‐m porous media layer that acts as temporary storage during a storm event. When planted with the suggested vegetation, this design maximizes stormwater treatment by promoting ecological treatment in the topsoil while promoting infiltration and evapotranspiration of stormwater by deep‐rooted shrubs that require no irrigation after establishment. This synthesis improves water resources management in arid and semiarid regions by introducing a sustainable bioretention design that protects local surface waters while reducing regional water demands for irrigation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Respectively, Ph.D. Candidate (Houdeshel) and Assistant Professor (Pomeroy), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, 110 S. Central Campus Dr., Urban Water Group Suite 2000, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112 2: Research Ecologist (Hultine), Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona 85008

Publication date: December 1, 2012


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