Biofilters, also known as bioretention areas or raingardens, are an effective treatment option for the removal of various pollutants from stormwater. However, they show variable treatment efficiency for the removal of indicator bacteria, and the operational and design factors which impact this variability are largely unknown. This study uses a laboratory scale column set-up to explore how Escherichia coli (the chosen indicator organism) removal in the stormwater biofilters is impacted by: plant presence and species type, the presence of a submerged zone (SZ), and operational conditions (duration of dry periods and changes over the initial stages of the system’s life-span). Vegetation selection was found to be important for E. coli removal and the highly performing plant species were associated with lower infiltration rates. Based on the current results, a biofilter planted with Leptospermum continentale, Melaleuca incana or Palmetto buffalo and comprising a SZ can be recommended for improved E. coli removal. Inclusion of SZ was found to generally enhance the removal performance; which may be explained by the contribution of microbial processes that are happening within the SZ (such as predation/competition and natural die-off). Results also suggest that the E. coli removal performance is reduced after a significant dry period, while the overall removal performance improves over time as systems mature.


Chandrasena, G. I., Pham, T., Payne, E. G. I., Deletic, A. and McCarthy, D. T. (2014). E. coli removal in laboratory scale stormwater biofilters: Influence of vegetation and submerged zone. Journal of Hydrology, 519(A), pp. 814-822. Copyright © 2014  Elsevier B.V.

Note: Journal articles and conference papers (and links where available) are available under open access arrangements where possible. Otherwise please contact your institution’s library, the authors, or publishers to organise full access.

Last updated: 6th Apr 2017