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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering >> 2017, Volume 11, Issue 4 doi: 10.1007/s11783-017-0982-y

A critical literature review of bioretention research for stormwater management in cold climate and future research recommendations

. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 1H9, Canada.. City Planning, City of Edmonton, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 0J4, Canada

Available online:2017-08-03

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Bioretention is a popular best management practice of low impact development that effectively restores urban hydrologic characteristics to those of predevelopment and improves water quality prior to conveyance to surface waters. This is achieved by utilizing an engineered system containing a surface layer of mulch, a thick soil media often amended with a variety of materials to improve water quality, a variety of vegetation, and underdrains, depending on the surrounding soil characteristics. Bioretention systems have been studied quite extensively for warm climate applications, but data strongly supporting their long-term efficacy and application in cold climates is sparse. Although it is apparent that bioretention is an effective stormwater management system, its design in cold climate needs further research. Existing cold climate research has shown that coarser media is required to prevent concrete frost from forming. For spring, summer and fall seasons, if sufficient permeability exists to drain the system prior to freezing, peak flow and volume reduction can be maintained. Additionally, contaminants that are removed via filtration are also not impacted by cold climates. In contrary, dissolved contaminants, nutrients, and organics are significantly more variable in their ability to be removed or degraded via bioretention in colder temperatures. Winter road maintenance salts have been shown to negatively impact the removal of some contaminants and positively impact others, while their effects on properly selected vegetation or bacteria health are also not very well understood. Research in these water quality aspects has been inconsistent and therefore requires further study.

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