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Rain Garden Research and 
      Current Issues




                     Michael Dietz, Ph.D.
               CT NEMO | Cooperative Extension 
                      Univ. of Connecticut
Managing Stormwater from Impervious Surfaces: Green Infrastructure 
                    Solutions for New Jersey
               The Heldrich | New Brunswick, NJ

                       January 27, 2011
Monitoring-Began November 2002
Installation: 9‐19‐02
Rain Garden Materials Detail
                    (Based on PGC RG Manual, 2001)



• Three native shrub species:
   – Chokeberry (Aronia prunifolia)
   – Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
   – Compact inkberry (Ilex glabra compacta)


• Native soil mix
   – Loamy sand


• Roughly 5 cm of bark mulch
Monitoring Equipment
Methods

•Lab analysis of water samples for:
   •Nitrate‐N, ammonia‐N, total Kjeldahl‐N, total 
   phosphorus, copper, lead, zinc
•Water level in each garden measured
•Temperature measured at inlet and outlet 
(underdrains)
•Weekly measurements of soil moisture, 
redox potential (Eh), and frost depth
Flow balance

                          cm % of Inflow
Inflow
 Roof Runoff             1202     79.7
 Precipitation            306     20.3
                 Total   1507
Outflow
 Underdrain              1438     95.4
 Overflow                  13      0.8
                 Total   1451
Residual                   56      3.7



            99% of inflow 
              retained!
Percent retention


                  NO3-N    NH3-N    TKN         TP       TN    ON
                                           g
Total In            388       30     250          9      647   211
Total Out           128        5     186         20      316   181
% Retention          67       82      26       -108       51    14



              -Two years of results (year 1 much less)
              -Remember: 99% of inflow was retained
Total Phosphorus
                          0.25
                                                                                                  Roof runoff
                                                                                                  Underdrain average
                                                                                                  Exponential (Underdrain average)
                           0.2                                                                    Linear (Roof runoff)
Total Phosphorus (mg/L)




                          0.15



                           0.1



                          0.05                                                               R2 = 0.47

                                      R2 = 0.06

                            0
                            Sep-02   Dec-02       Mar-03   Jun-03   Oct-03          Jan-04      Apr-04       Aug-04       Nov-04     Feb-05
                                                                             Date
Comparison with other research
• Consistent with North Carolina
   – Hunt et al., 2006. Evaluating bioretention hydrology and nutrient removal at three field 
     sites in North Carolina. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, Vol. 132(6), pp. 
     600‐608.

• Consistent (N) & inconsistent (P) with 
  Maryland
   – Davis et al., 2006. Water quality improvement through bioretention media: nitrogen and 
     phosphorus removal. Water Environment Research, Vol. 78(3), pp. 284‐293.

• Consistent with New Hampshire
   – Roseen, et al., 2009. Seasonal performance variations for storm‐water management 
     systems in cold climate conditions. Journal of Environmental Engineering, Vol. 135 (3), 
     pp. 128‐137.

• Lots of variability in results!
Second year


• Modification to encourage denitrification and 
  increase treatment of NO3‐N

• Saturated zone created in bottom of rain 
  garden (after Kim, et al., 2004)
Modification

Ponding depth
Saturated zone
                             Monitoring 
                               tank




1m              Underdrain
Impact on NO3‐N
• No statistically significant reduction in NO3‐N 
  concentrations
  – Lots of samples below detection limit

• Percent of outflow samples below detection 
  before/after change:
  – Before = 19%
  – After   = 56%
  – Significant using chi‐square statistic
What happens in the winter?
Frost Tube




After Ricard, et al. (1976)
Frost Tube Detail
Winter performance
• Measured frost depth
• Did not impact annual performance

• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq6WB6VKeac

• Similar findings at UNH Stormwater Center
   – Roseen, et al., 2009. Seasonal performance variations for storm‐water management 
     systems in cold climate conditions. Journal of Environmental Engineering, Vol. 135 (3), 
     pp. 128‐137.
Some Current Issues

• Filter fabric use
   – DON’T USE IN BIORETENTION!
   – Prone to clogging


• Sizing
   – Water quality volume vs. curve number vs. ?
Thank You!!


      Questions??

michael.dietz@uconn.edu
Two year ANOVA/mean separation

                                 Bulk                             Underdrain               Overflow1
Variable      n       Unit       Deposition     Roof Runoff   Treatment   Control     Treatment Control
       ***                 -1
NO3-N         73       mg L           0.7 bcd      0.9 abc       0.2 d      0.4 cd      2.0 ab    2.1 a
                            -1
NH3-N***      78       mg L           0.04 a       0.04 a        0.01 b     0.01 b      0.08 a    0.04 a
TKNns         79       mg L
                            -1
                                      0.5 a        0.6 a         0.4 a      0.5 a       0.6 a     0.3 a
TN***         72       mg L
                            -1
                                    1.3 abc        1.6 ab        0.7 c      0.9 bc      2.7 a     2.4 a
ONns          77       mg L
                            -1
                                      0.4 a        0.5 a         0.4 a      0.5 a       0.5 a     0.2 a
TP***         80       mg L
                            -1
                                      0.009 b      0.015 b       0.039 a    0.043 a     0.009 b   0.016 b
                            -1
Cutotal ns    26        µg L          3a            5a           3a         4a           3a         -
                            -1
Pbtotal ns    26        µg L          3a            3a           3a         3a           3a         -
                            -1
Zntotal ns    26        µg L       11 a             9a          10 a        5a           8a         -

*** p=0.001
ns=ANOVA comparison non significant
1
  n=4 for overflow samples

 Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different at p=0.05

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NJ: Rain Garden Research

  • 1. Rain Garden Research and  Current Issues Michael Dietz, Ph.D. CT NEMO | Cooperative Extension  Univ. of Connecticut Managing Stormwater from Impervious Surfaces: Green Infrastructure  Solutions for New Jersey The Heldrich | New Brunswick, NJ January 27, 2011
  • 4.
  • 5. Rain Garden Materials Detail (Based on PGC RG Manual, 2001) • Three native shrub species: – Chokeberry (Aronia prunifolia) – Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) – Compact inkberry (Ilex glabra compacta) • Native soil mix – Loamy sand • Roughly 5 cm of bark mulch
  • 7. Methods •Lab analysis of water samples for: •Nitrate‐N, ammonia‐N, total Kjeldahl‐N, total  phosphorus, copper, lead, zinc •Water level in each garden measured •Temperature measured at inlet and outlet  (underdrains) •Weekly measurements of soil moisture,  redox potential (Eh), and frost depth
  • 8. Flow balance cm % of Inflow Inflow Roof Runoff 1202 79.7 Precipitation 306 20.3 Total 1507 Outflow Underdrain 1438 95.4 Overflow 13 0.8 Total 1451 Residual 56 3.7 99% of inflow  retained!
  • 9. Percent retention NO3-N NH3-N TKN TP TN ON g Total In 388 30 250 9 647 211 Total Out 128 5 186 20 316 181 % Retention 67 82 26 -108 51 14 -Two years of results (year 1 much less) -Remember: 99% of inflow was retained
  • 10. Total Phosphorus 0.25 Roof runoff Underdrain average Exponential (Underdrain average) 0.2 Linear (Roof runoff) Total Phosphorus (mg/L) 0.15 0.1 0.05 R2 = 0.47 R2 = 0.06 0 Sep-02 Dec-02 Mar-03 Jun-03 Oct-03 Jan-04 Apr-04 Aug-04 Nov-04 Feb-05 Date
  • 11. Comparison with other research • Consistent with North Carolina – Hunt et al., 2006. Evaluating bioretention hydrology and nutrient removal at three field  sites in North Carolina. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, Vol. 132(6), pp.  600‐608. • Consistent (N) & inconsistent (P) with  Maryland – Davis et al., 2006. Water quality improvement through bioretention media: nitrogen and  phosphorus removal. Water Environment Research, Vol. 78(3), pp. 284‐293. • Consistent with New Hampshire – Roseen, et al., 2009. Seasonal performance variations for storm‐water management  systems in cold climate conditions. Journal of Environmental Engineering, Vol. 135 (3),  pp. 128‐137. • Lots of variability in results!
  • 12. Second year • Modification to encourage denitrification and  increase treatment of NO3‐N • Saturated zone created in bottom of rain  garden (after Kim, et al., 2004)
  • 14. Saturated zone Monitoring  tank 1m Underdrain
  • 15. Impact on NO3‐N • No statistically significant reduction in NO3‐N  concentrations – Lots of samples below detection limit • Percent of outflow samples below detection  before/after change: – Before = 19% – After   = 56% – Significant using chi‐square statistic
  • 19. Winter performance • Measured frost depth • Did not impact annual performance • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq6WB6VKeac • Similar findings at UNH Stormwater Center – Roseen, et al., 2009. Seasonal performance variations for storm‐water management  systems in cold climate conditions. Journal of Environmental Engineering, Vol. 135 (3),  pp. 128‐137.
  • 20. Some Current Issues • Filter fabric use – DON’T USE IN BIORETENTION! – Prone to clogging • Sizing – Water quality volume vs. curve number vs. ?
  • 21. Thank You!! Questions?? michael.dietz@uconn.edu
  • 22. Two year ANOVA/mean separation Bulk Underdrain Overflow1 Variable n Unit Deposition Roof Runoff Treatment Control Treatment Control *** -1 NO3-N 73 mg L 0.7 bcd 0.9 abc 0.2 d 0.4 cd 2.0 ab 2.1 a -1 NH3-N*** 78 mg L 0.04 a 0.04 a 0.01 b 0.01 b 0.08 a 0.04 a TKNns 79 mg L -1 0.5 a 0.6 a 0.4 a 0.5 a 0.6 a 0.3 a TN*** 72 mg L -1 1.3 abc 1.6 ab 0.7 c 0.9 bc 2.7 a 2.4 a ONns 77 mg L -1 0.4 a 0.5 a 0.4 a 0.5 a 0.5 a 0.2 a TP*** 80 mg L -1 0.009 b 0.015 b 0.039 a 0.043 a 0.009 b 0.016 b -1 Cutotal ns 26 µg L 3a 5a 3a 4a 3a - -1 Pbtotal ns 26 µg L 3a 3a 3a 3a 3a - -1 Zntotal ns 26 µg L 11 a 9a 10 a 5a 8a - *** p=0.001 ns=ANOVA comparison non significant 1 n=4 for overflow samples Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different at p=0.05