Biofiltration systems represent an effective technology for the management of urban stormwater runoff volumes and quality. The performance of these systems, although largely dependent on their physical characteristics, is also strongly affected by the natural variability of runoff occurrence and volumes. This article presents a model that describes the statistical behaviour of the main variables involved in the water balance of a biofiltration system, given its main physical properties (filter media and vegetation types) and accounting for the natural inflow variability in terms of occurrence and water volumes. The model permits the analytical derivation of the long-term (e.g. annual) probability density function of the soil water content in the filter media and the estimation of the main statistics of water fluxes, that is, outflow, evapotranspiration and overflow. By relating the soil water content in the filter media before inflow events to the outflow total nitrogen concentrations, the model also gives estimates of the statistics of nitrogen removal performance as a function of inflow variability. The model was tested against field data collected at a stormwater biofiltration system in Melbourne, Australia. The model could be used to rapidly assess the hydrologic and nitrogen treatment performance of alternative applications of biofiltration for stormwater management across a range of climates.

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Last updated: 17th Jun 2016