Assessment of the hydraulic and toxic metal removal capacities of bioretention cells after 2 to 8 years of service

Kim H. Paus*, Joel Morgan, John S. Gulliver, Torove Leiknes, Raymond M. Hozalski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Bioretention cells, also known as raingardens, are increasingly being constructed as a means to collect, infiltrate, and treat stormwater runoff. There are concerns, however, about how stormwater management practices might function in terms of infiltration and pollutant removal as they age. Saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) values were obtained for eight cells in 2006 and again for three of those cells in 2010 using an infiltrometer. A strong positive correlation of mean Ksat with service time was observed (slope = 10.22.4 cm/h per year, R2 = 0.67). Results from metals analyses of bioretention media cores collected from six bioretention cells showed the expected trend of Cu and Zn enrichment at the surface while Cd was detected only in one out of 72 media samples analyzed. Sorption isotherms from batch testing of field media samples (T = 22.5 C, pH = 7.2) were used to estimate metal sorption capacities based on representative stormwater Cd and Zn concentrations. Cu was not considered, as very little of the metal is dissolved under these conditions (22.8 7.1 %). The mean equilibrium sorption capacities for Cd (10.23.1 mg/kg) and Zn (294.914.9 mg/kg) far exceeded observed levels in the bioretentionmedia such that the remaining sorption capacity was ?83 % for Zn and ?90%for Cd for the cells. Overall, the results of this investigation suggest that bioretention cells can provide many years of effective infiltration (>6 years) and metals removal performance (>25 years).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1803
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgement The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) provided funding for this project through a 319 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Additional funding was provided by grants from the Fulbright foundation (KHP and TL).


  • Bioretention
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Metals
  • Organicmatter
  • Sorption
  • Stormwater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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