Understanding Urban Stormwater Denitrification in Bioretention Internal Water Storage Zones
Igielski, Sara Jasmine
Davis, Allen P
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Free-draining bioretention systems commonly demonstrate poor nitrate removal. In this study, column tests verified the necessity of a permanently saturated zone to target nitrate removal via denitrification. Experiments determined a first-order denitrification rate constant of 0.0011 min-1 specific to Willow Oak woodchip media. A 2.6-day retention time reduced 3.0 mgN/L to below 0.05 mg-N/L. During simulated storm events, hydraulic retention time may be used as a predictive measurement of nitrate fate and removal. A minimum 4.0 hour retention time was necessary for in-storm denitrification defined by a minimum 20% nitrate removal. Additional environmental parameters, e.g., pH, temperature, oxidation-reduction potential, and dissolved oxygen, affect denitrification rate and response, but macroscale measurements may not be an accurate depiction of denitrifying biofilm conditions. A simple model was developed to predict annual bioretention nitrate performance. Novel bioretention design should incorporate bowl storage and large subsurface denitrifying zones to maximize treatment volume and contact time.