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Rain Gardens at Vassar College:
 A Water Quality Assessment




                                               Emily Vail
                                   Collins Research Fellow
            Vassar College Environmental Research Institute
                                      Community Educator
                                     Environment Program
             Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County
Stormwater and Water Quantity




  National Research Council, “Stormwater Management in the United States” (2008)
Stormwater and Water Quality
• Sediment - erosion, bound to other
pollutants
• Nutrients - eutrophication
• Heavy metals - toxicity
• Other contaminants
   - Ecological problems in streams
   (Walsh et al. 2005, Paul & Meyer 2001, Groffman
   et al. 2003, National Research Council 2008)

   - Water treatment is expensive
Rain gardens?




     NYS DEC, “New York State Stormwater Design Manual” (2008)
Town House Apartments Site
Redevelopment - 2008


                Rain Garden 1

Rain Garden 2
Rain Garden 2   Rain Garden 1
Water samples collected:
• Precipitation
• Stormwater runoff
• Soil water
• Catch basins

Analyzed for:
• Total suspended solids (TSS)
• Dissolved inorganic nutrients (N, P)
• Heavy metals (Cu, Pb, Zn)
Site Map
Rain Garden Catch Basin   Unfiltered Catch Basin
Mean TSS in Catch Basins

                             25



                             20
      Concentration (mg/L)




                             15



                             10



                             5



                             0
                                  Rain Garden 2            Rain Garden 1     Unfiltered Catch Basin




n = 6, samples from December 2008, March 2009, April 2009, August 2010, and October 2010
Mean Dissolved Nutrient Concentrations in Catch Basins


                         1.2
                                                                                     Ammonium
                                                                                     Nitrate
                          1                                                          Phosphate
  Concentration (mg/L)




                         0.8


                         0.6


                         0.4


                         0.2


                          0
                                Rain Garden 2          Rain Garden 1       Unfiltered Catch Basin




n = 6, samples from December 2008, March 2009, April 2009, August 2010, and October 2010
Mean Total Heavy Metal Concentrations in Catch Basins


                             0.35

                                                                                            Copper
                              0.3
                                                                                            Lead
                                                                                            Zinc
      Concentration (mg/L)




                             0.25


                              0.2


                             0.15


                              0.1


                             0.05


                               0
                                      Rain Garden 2         Rain Garden 1     Unfiltered Catch Basin




n = 6, samples from December 2008, March 2009, April 2009, August 2010, and October 2010
Rain Garden 2 inlet   Rain Garden 1 inlet
Mean Total Heavy Metal Concentrations in Catch Basins


                             0.35

                                                                                            Copper
                              0.3
                                                                                            Lead
                                                                                            Zinc
      Concentration (mg/L)




                             0.25


                              0.2


                             0.15


                              0.1


                             0.05


                               0
                                      Rain Garden 2         Rain Garden 1     Unfiltered Catch Basin




n = 6, samples from December 2008, March 2009, April 2009, August 2010, and October 2010
Summary
• Rain gardens are effective at removing TSS
   – Consistent with other studies (Davis 2007, Davis 2009,
     Bratieres et al. 2008)


• May be net exporters of nutrients (affected by
  the growing season)
   – Some studies found that although total N and P
     reduced, inorganic nutrients increased (Davis et al.
     2009, Davis et al. 2006, US EPA 1999, Davis et al. 2007, Dietz &
     Clausen 2006, Kim et al. 2003)
Summary
• Do not appear to moderate heavy metal loads
  (further studies needed)
   – Laboratory studies show 88-97% removal of Cd, Cu,
     Pb, Zn from synthetic stormwater (Sun & Davis 2006,
     Davis et al. 2001, Davis et al. 2003)
   – Field studies - slightly lower removal rates for
     metals (Davis 2007)

• Increased retention time for stormwater
  quantity (Davis et al. 2009, Davis 2007, Hood et al.
  2007, Hatt et al. 2009)
Conclusion
•   Rain gardens - an important aspect of Low Impact Design
•   Maintain pre-development hydrology
•   Local BMPs to address ecosystem-wide problems
•   Need for assessment
•   Aesthetics and function
Next steps
• Do rain gardens continue to function the same
  way over the duration of a storm event?
  – Monitoring water quality
  – Assess flow patterns on site

• What kind of maintenance is required? Is the
  design functioning as it was intended?
  – Visual observations and considerations for
    maintenance and potential design modifications
Monitoring water quality for the
  duration of a storm event
Concentration (mg/L)                                                                                                         Concentration (mg/L)

                                                                                                                               17




                                                                                                                                        0.00
                                                                                                                                                2.00
                                                                                                                                                       4.00
                                                                                                                                                              6.00
                                                                                                                                                                     8.00
                                                                                                                                                                                    10.00
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  12.00




                              10.00
                                      15.00
                                              20.00
                                                      25.00
                                                                     30.00




                0.00
                       5.00
       17
         :3                                                                                                                      :3
       17 1                                                                                                                    17 1
         :4                                                                                                                      :4
       18 6                                                                                                                    18 6
         :0                                                                                                                      :0
       18 1                                                                                                                    18 1
         :1                                                                                                                      :1
       18 6                                                                                                                    18 6
         :3                                                                                                                      :3
       18 1                                                                                                                    18 1
         :4                                                                                                                      :4
       19 6                                                                                                                    19 6
         :0                                                                                                                      :0
       19 1                                                                                                                    19 1
         :1                                                                                                                      :1
       19 6                                                                                                                    19 6
         :3                                                                                                                      :3
       19 1                                                                                                                    19 1
         :4                                                                                                                      :4
       20 6                                                                                                                    20 6
         :0                                                                                                                      :0
       20 1                                                                                                                    20 1
         :1                                                                                                                      :1
       20 6                                                                                                                    20 6
         :3                                                                                                                      :3




Time
       20 1                                                                                                                    20 1
                                                                                                                        Time




         :4                                                                                                                      :4
       21 6                                                                                                                    21 6
         :0                                                                                                                      :0
       21 1                                                                                                                    21 1
         :1                                                                                                                      :1
       21 6                                                                                                                    21 6
                                                                                   Unfiltered Catch Basin on 10/14




         :3                                                                                                                      :3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          TSS in Rain Garden 1 Catch Basin on 10/14




       21 1                                                                                                                    21 1
                                                                                 TSS in Rain Garden 1 Catch Basin and




         :4                                                                                                                      :4
       22 6                                                                                                                    22 6
         :0                                                                                                                      :0
       22 1                                                                                                                    22 1
         :1                                                                                                                      :1
       22 6                                                                                                                    22 6
         :3                                                                                                                      :3
       22 1                                                                                                                    22 1
         :4
                                                        Rain Garden 1




                                                                                                                                 :4
       23 6                                                                                                                    23 6
         :0                                                                                                                      :0
                                                                                                                                                                            R2 = 0.4652




       23 1                                                                                                                    23 1
         :1
                                                        Unfiltered Catch Basin




                                                                                                                                 :1
            6                                                                                                                       6
                                                                                                                                                                                          y = -0.2302x + 7.2547
Total Heavy Metal Concentration and Water Depth in
                              Rain Garden 1 Catch Basin, 10/14


                1.4                                                               0.45

                                                                                  0.4
Concentration




                1.2
 Heavy Metal




                                                                                  0.35




                                                                                         Water Depth (m)
                 1
                                                                                  0.3
                                                             Total heavy metals
                0.8                                                               0.25
                                                             Water depth
                0.6                                                               0.2

                                                                                  0.15
                0.4
                                                                                  0.1
                0.2
                                                                                  0.05

                 0                                                                0
                17 1
                     6

                     1

                     6

                     1

                     6

                19 1
                     6

                19 1
                     6

                     1

                     6

                     1

                     6

                     1

                     6

                     1

                22 6
                     1

                22 6
                     1

                23 6
                     1

                     6
                  :3

                  :4

                  :0

                  :1

                  :3

                  :4

                  :0

                  :1

                  :3

                  :4

                  :0

                  :1

                  :3

                  :4

                  :0

                  :1

                  :3

                  :4

                  :0

                  :1

                  :3

                  :4

                  :0

                  :1
                17



                18

                18

                18

                18

                19



                19



                20

                20

                20

                20

                21

                21

                21

                21



                22



                22



                23
                                             Time
Water Depth (m)
       17




                0
                    0.1
                          0.2
                                    0.3
                                          0.4
                                                0.5
                                                          0.6
                                                                0.7
                                                                      0.8
         :0
       17 0
         :
       17 15
         :3
       17 0
         :4
       18 5
         :
       18 00
         :1
       18 5
         :3
       18 0
         :
       19 45
         :0
       19 0
         :1
       19 5
         :
       19 30
         :4
       20 5
         :0
       20 0
         :1
       20 5
         :
       20 30
         :4




Time
       21 5
         :0
       21 0
         :
       21 15
         :3
       21 0
         :4
       22 5
         :
       22 00
         :1
       22 5
         :3
       22 0
         :
       23 45
         :0
       23 0
         :1
                                                                           Precipitation




       23 5
                                                                                                     Water Depth in Rain Garden 1 Catch Basin and




         :
                                                                           Rain Garden 1
                                                                                                    Unfiltered Catch Basin and Precipitation on 10/14




       23 30
         :4
            5
        0:
           00
                                                                           Unfiltered Catch Basin




                0
                                                  0.001




                                0.0005
                                                                      0.0015




                          Precipitation (m)
Assessing Flow Patterns
Identifying maintenance concerns
• Visual observation and
  data collection
• Sediment build-up in
  inlets
• Water flow through soil
• Plant growth
• Establishment of weeds
Acknowledgements
   Dr. Lynn Christenson, Dr. Mary Ann Cunningham,
Dr. Stuart Belli, Dr. Kirsten Menking, Dr. David Gillikin,
Dr. Jill Schneiderman, Dr. Mark Schlessman, Rick Jones,
Keri VanCamp, Seth Stickle, Danielle Goldie, Cat Foley,
                  Sandy Alles, & Will Jobs
   Vassar College Environmental Research Institute
     Vassar College Environmental Studies Program
Mean Nutrient Concentrations

                       30



                                                                                         Ammonium
                       25
                                                                                         Nitrate
                                                                                         Phosphate
Concentration (mg/L)




                       20



                       15



                       10



                        5



                        0
                            Precipitation   Runoff      Soil Water   Rain Garden Catch    Unfiltered Catch
                                                                           Basins               Basin
Mean Heavy Metal Concentrations

                        3
                                                                                                Copper
                       2.5                                                                      Lead
                                                                                                Zinc
Concentration (mg/L)




                        2


                       1.5


                        1


                       0.5


                        0
                             Precipitation   Runoff        Soil Water   Rain Garden Catch   Unfiltered Catch
                                                                              Basins              Basin

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NY: Vassar College NY: Rain Garden

  • 1. Rain Gardens at Vassar College: A Water Quality Assessment Emily Vail Collins Research Fellow Vassar College Environmental Research Institute Community Educator Environment Program Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County
  • 2. Stormwater and Water Quantity National Research Council, “Stormwater Management in the United States” (2008)
  • 3. Stormwater and Water Quality • Sediment - erosion, bound to other pollutants • Nutrients - eutrophication • Heavy metals - toxicity • Other contaminants - Ecological problems in streams (Walsh et al. 2005, Paul & Meyer 2001, Groffman et al. 2003, National Research Council 2008) - Water treatment is expensive
  • 4. Rain gardens? NYS DEC, “New York State Stormwater Design Manual” (2008)
  • 6. Redevelopment - 2008 Rain Garden 1 Rain Garden 2
  • 7. Rain Garden 2 Rain Garden 1
  • 8. Water samples collected: • Precipitation • Stormwater runoff • Soil water • Catch basins Analyzed for: • Total suspended solids (TSS) • Dissolved inorganic nutrients (N, P) • Heavy metals (Cu, Pb, Zn)
  • 10. Rain Garden Catch Basin Unfiltered Catch Basin
  • 11. Mean TSS in Catch Basins 25 20 Concentration (mg/L) 15 10 5 0 Rain Garden 2 Rain Garden 1 Unfiltered Catch Basin n = 6, samples from December 2008, March 2009, April 2009, August 2010, and October 2010
  • 12. Mean Dissolved Nutrient Concentrations in Catch Basins 1.2 Ammonium Nitrate 1 Phosphate Concentration (mg/L) 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 Rain Garden 2 Rain Garden 1 Unfiltered Catch Basin n = 6, samples from December 2008, March 2009, April 2009, August 2010, and October 2010
  • 13. Mean Total Heavy Metal Concentrations in Catch Basins 0.35 Copper 0.3 Lead Zinc Concentration (mg/L) 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 Rain Garden 2 Rain Garden 1 Unfiltered Catch Basin n = 6, samples from December 2008, March 2009, April 2009, August 2010, and October 2010
  • 14. Rain Garden 2 inlet Rain Garden 1 inlet
  • 15. Mean Total Heavy Metal Concentrations in Catch Basins 0.35 Copper 0.3 Lead Zinc Concentration (mg/L) 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 Rain Garden 2 Rain Garden 1 Unfiltered Catch Basin n = 6, samples from December 2008, March 2009, April 2009, August 2010, and October 2010
  • 16. Summary • Rain gardens are effective at removing TSS – Consistent with other studies (Davis 2007, Davis 2009, Bratieres et al. 2008) • May be net exporters of nutrients (affected by the growing season) – Some studies found that although total N and P reduced, inorganic nutrients increased (Davis et al. 2009, Davis et al. 2006, US EPA 1999, Davis et al. 2007, Dietz & Clausen 2006, Kim et al. 2003)
  • 17. Summary • Do not appear to moderate heavy metal loads (further studies needed) – Laboratory studies show 88-97% removal of Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn from synthetic stormwater (Sun & Davis 2006, Davis et al. 2001, Davis et al. 2003) – Field studies - slightly lower removal rates for metals (Davis 2007) • Increased retention time for stormwater quantity (Davis et al. 2009, Davis 2007, Hood et al. 2007, Hatt et al. 2009)
  • 18. Conclusion • Rain gardens - an important aspect of Low Impact Design • Maintain pre-development hydrology • Local BMPs to address ecosystem-wide problems • Need for assessment • Aesthetics and function
  • 19. Next steps • Do rain gardens continue to function the same way over the duration of a storm event? – Monitoring water quality – Assess flow patterns on site • What kind of maintenance is required? Is the design functioning as it was intended? – Visual observations and considerations for maintenance and potential design modifications
  • 20. Monitoring water quality for the duration of a storm event
  • 21. Concentration (mg/L) Concentration (mg/L) 17 0.00 2.00 4.00 6.00 8.00 10.00 12.00 10.00 15.00 20.00 25.00 30.00 0.00 5.00 17 :3 :3 17 1 17 1 :4 :4 18 6 18 6 :0 :0 18 1 18 1 :1 :1 18 6 18 6 :3 :3 18 1 18 1 :4 :4 19 6 19 6 :0 :0 19 1 19 1 :1 :1 19 6 19 6 :3 :3 19 1 19 1 :4 :4 20 6 20 6 :0 :0 20 1 20 1 :1 :1 20 6 20 6 :3 :3 Time 20 1 20 1 Time :4 :4 21 6 21 6 :0 :0 21 1 21 1 :1 :1 21 6 21 6 Unfiltered Catch Basin on 10/14 :3 :3 TSS in Rain Garden 1 Catch Basin on 10/14 21 1 21 1 TSS in Rain Garden 1 Catch Basin and :4 :4 22 6 22 6 :0 :0 22 1 22 1 :1 :1 22 6 22 6 :3 :3 22 1 22 1 :4 Rain Garden 1 :4 23 6 23 6 :0 :0 R2 = 0.4652 23 1 23 1 :1 Unfiltered Catch Basin :1 6 6 y = -0.2302x + 7.2547
  • 22. Total Heavy Metal Concentration and Water Depth in Rain Garden 1 Catch Basin, 10/14 1.4 0.45 0.4 Concentration 1.2 Heavy Metal 0.35 Water Depth (m) 1 0.3 Total heavy metals 0.8 0.25 Water depth 0.6 0.2 0.15 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.05 0 0 17 1 6 1 6 1 6 19 1 6 19 1 6 1 6 1 6 1 6 1 22 6 1 22 6 1 23 6 1 6 :3 :4 :0 :1 :3 :4 :0 :1 :3 :4 :0 :1 :3 :4 :0 :1 :3 :4 :0 :1 :3 :4 :0 :1 17 18 18 18 18 19 19 20 20 20 20 21 21 21 21 22 22 23 Time
  • 23. Water Depth (m) 17 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 :0 17 0 : 17 15 :3 17 0 :4 18 5 : 18 00 :1 18 5 :3 18 0 : 19 45 :0 19 0 :1 19 5 : 19 30 :4 20 5 :0 20 0 :1 20 5 : 20 30 :4 Time 21 5 :0 21 0 : 21 15 :3 21 0 :4 22 5 : 22 00 :1 22 5 :3 22 0 : 23 45 :0 23 0 :1 Precipitation 23 5 Water Depth in Rain Garden 1 Catch Basin and : Rain Garden 1 Unfiltered Catch Basin and Precipitation on 10/14 23 30 :4 5 0: 00 Unfiltered Catch Basin 0 0.001 0.0005 0.0015 Precipitation (m)
  • 25. Identifying maintenance concerns • Visual observation and data collection • Sediment build-up in inlets • Water flow through soil • Plant growth • Establishment of weeds
  • 26. Acknowledgements Dr. Lynn Christenson, Dr. Mary Ann Cunningham, Dr. Stuart Belli, Dr. Kirsten Menking, Dr. David Gillikin, Dr. Jill Schneiderman, Dr. Mark Schlessman, Rick Jones, Keri VanCamp, Seth Stickle, Danielle Goldie, Cat Foley, Sandy Alles, & Will Jobs Vassar College Environmental Research Institute Vassar College Environmental Studies Program
  • 27.
  • 28. Mean Nutrient Concentrations 30 Ammonium 25 Nitrate Phosphate Concentration (mg/L) 20 15 10 5 0 Precipitation Runoff Soil Water Rain Garden Catch Unfiltered Catch Basins Basin
  • 29. Mean Heavy Metal Concentrations 3 Copper 2.5 Lead Zinc Concentration (mg/L) 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 Precipitation Runoff Soil Water Rain Garden Catch Unfiltered Catch Basins Basin