A large-scale laboratory study was conducted to test the influence of design and operating conditions on the lifespan of stormwater biofilters. The evolution of hydraulic conductivity over time was studied in relation to a number of key design parameters (media type, filter depth, vegetation type, system sizing, etc). The biofilters were observed to clog over time, with average hydraulic conductivity decreasing by a factor of 3.6 over the 72 weeks of testing. The choice of plant species appears to have a significant effect on the rate of decrease in permeability, with plants with thick roots (e.g.Melaleuca) demonstrating an ability to maintain permeability over time. Other species studied, with finer roots, had no such beneficial effects. As expected, small systems relative to their catchment (and thus which are subjected to high loading rates) are more prone to clogging, as increases in hydraulic and sediment loading can lead to extremely low hydraulic conductivities. Sizing and the appropriate choice of vegetation are thus key elements in design because they can limit clogging, and therefore, indirectly increase annual load treated by limiting the volume of water bypassing the system.

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Last updated: 17th Jun 2016